Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Driving Towards More Confusion

Traffic during the week is not bad these days, as some 800,000 cars are pulled off the roads at any given time between Monday to Friday.

I manage to get to work at a decent time taking the bus, and in about 15 minutes by taxi. Gone are the long lines of cars waiting to turn left from the fourth ring road onto Huixin Dong Jie.

So for people like me who take public transit, it's great.

But drivers find the whole exercise confusing.

Since October 11, there is a specific schedule of when cars can go on or off the roads depending on the last number of the license plate.

It goes like this:

On Mondays, it's 1 and 6
Tuesday it's 2 and 7
Wednesday it's 3 and 8
Thursday it's 4 and 9
Friday it's 5 and 0.

Everyone can drive on the weekends.

But apparently car owners are so confused by the rules that the Beijing Youth Daily runs a front-page notice to remind them.

So now the municipal government is now going to make things even more confusing starting from this Monday November 10. Apparently some cars that were previously banned on Mondays can now drive on this day, but not on Tuesdays. Cars banned on other days of the week are pushed back a day.


What was wrong with the system we have now? Or should we make things even more simple (and better) by having the odd and even number rule?

A friend who owns a car but doesn't use it frequently admitted to me that he liked the odd and even number rule during the Olympics. Since he lives in the sixth ring road, commutes to work by driving were so great for him in that two-month period.

But now the traffic flow doesn't make too much of a difference to him and he has to battle the crowds on the subway everyday. "One day isn't too big of a sacrifice, but it doesn't have much impact on me," he said.

The government better not make things even more confusing, as the news reports didn't further explain which cars could be exempted from these number rules and why.

In the meantime, since public transit is basically state-run, can't there be more buses on the roads so that they make commuting more convenient for people, and run at later times too? Ending a bus route at 10pm and subways just before 11pm just don't cut it.

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