Car licence lottery held in traffic choked Beijing

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BEIJING - The first ever car licence plate lottery was held Wednesday in Beijing, a city where 800,000 new cars took to the overcrowded roads last year.

The lottery system has been introduced to restrict vehicle purchases and curtail worsening traffic jams, Xinhua reported.

Data from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport shows the number of cars in Beijing more than quadrupled from 1 million in 1997 to 4.76 million in 2010.

Last year, Beijing saw an annual record of 800,000 new cars take to the already overcrowded streets. A record 140 traffic jams were monitored on a single evening in September last year, making parts of the city resemble parking lots.

The lottery was attended by representatives of the applicants, statistics experts and transport officials.

As many as 17,600 applicants — from a total of 210,178 — were awarded licence plates in the lottery, the first since the Beijing municipal government put in place the scheme at the end of last year.

The new mechanism seeks to reduce new car registrations by allowing only 240,000 this year, about a third of the number registered in 2010.

The government has also introduced higher parking fees in downtown areas and stricter enforcement of traffic rules to ease the traffic woes.

The authorities have also vowed to freeze the number of cars owned by government organizations.

The lottery process was broadcast live on TV and the Internet to the public.

Filed under: Economy

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