Friday, August 10, 2007

The Evens and Odds of Traffic Congestion

Beijing has just announced its plans on how it will take 1.3 million cars off the road next week in a bid to try to improve air quality and traffic congestion. It's the city's attempt to take almost half of the three million cars off the road as part of its pre-Olympic tests.

The trial will run for four days, from Friday August 17 to Monday August 20. The plan is for cars with license plate numbers ending with an odd number can only be driven on Friday and Sunday, while even numbers are allowed on the roads Saturday and Monday.

This applies to all Beijing-registered cars as well as those from outside the city. And of course emergency vehicles, fire, police and ambulance as well as public transport are exempt.

While the intention is there, can traffic congestion be really tested on two days which happen to fall on a weekend where people aren't in a rush to get to work? Also, there will probably be many CEOs and other bigwigs who may think this plate number business doesn't apply to them at all and will refuse to take public transit.

Air quality and traffic congestion can only be truly tested during a typical week and four days is not enough of an indication whether air quality has significantly improved or not.

Buses and subways are already crowded. And despite the promise of 700 to 800 extra buses on the road during the trial period, taxi drivers will probably make a killing as people used to driving their cars will refuse to hop on a bus.

It's a status thing they can't and won't shake off.


ks said...

any experimental test needs a large number of samples to be valid. the bigger the sample the more the accuracy. a test sample of only four days does not make any sense. it takes at least 10-14 days in order to draw a meaningful conclusion. hopefully this is only a prelude to the real longer test to come.

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