Thursday, July 3, 2008

Smooth on the Road, but not Underground

This past week traffic has been really smooth. I easily find a taxi and get to work in about 15 minutes, 20 minutes tops.

While there are still lots of cars on the road, they are all moving too, hardly impeding our progress. Granted rush hour home is still bad, but not horrific, but going to work is practically a breeze.

Why is that?

It might be because there are some 300,000 government vehicles in Beijing and some 70 percent of them were taken off the roads to help clear the air 36 days from now. On July 20 the city will implement the temporary policy of alternating cars on the roads, which will make my commute even faster until September.

What happened to the officials who had their private cars -- some chauffeured -- and weren't allowed to drive them? Did they become like ordinary folk and take public transit? Or did they discover the beauty of carpooling? What happened to their drivers? Do they get an extra long holiday?

Meanwhile, on her way to work, a young colleague of mine fainted on the subway today. She was on the old train which only had fans blowing dead air than air conditioning.

She said it was so hot and stuffy and with lots of people, it was unbearable.

It took her two hours to recover from her ordeal and she looked pale and tired when she finally made it to the office.

While the government has purposely made public transit very inexpensive, it has to be able to deliver a good service to move people along. With the Olympics fast approaching, it won't be good public relations for visitors to find subways stuffy and packed.

During the evening rush, some escalators and people movers aren't turned on and are blocked off, making it near impossible to hurry down the corridor to transfer to another line with hundreds of other people going the same direction.

That's what the new electronic ticketing system is for, to track passengers' movements so that they can increase the frequency of trains when necessary.

Or has the subway company not realized there are a lot of extra people taking the subway these days, with many more to come in less than three weeks?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

every effort is made to achieve the air quality specified by the olympic commitee in order to be fair to the athletes. a little suffeering is unavoidable. the problem remains how to handle the traffic on a long-term basis.