. "Session I: The Chinese Transport Sector and Environment in 2001." The Future of Personal Transport in China: Summary of a Symposium, January 12, 2001. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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The Future of Personal Transport in China: Summary of a Symposium, January 12, 2001
end of 2000, the total length of expressways reached 12,000 km. There is a surcharge on vehicle sales for road construction paid directly to the ministry, so highway financing is linked to vehicle ownership and use.
Urban transport is most problematic. The rise in the number of personal vehicles is linked to land use changes, congestion, and decline in public transport and bicycles. Some public officials view the bicycle as a cause of road congestion and are trying to “build their way out” of congestion. In the long run this is impossible because of increasing urbanization of the population.
Dr. Liu then discussed the evolution of the urban land use pattern in China. Municipalities tend to cover large areas and include the central city and the suburban counties. Traditionally this encouraged a compact form of land use suitable for walking and bicycling. Newer cities like Chungqing, whose urban development is similar to Western cities, are characterized by rapid urban sprawl and declines in overall population density.
What are the options available to Chinese cities to deal with motorization? They can build new roads, build or expand a subway system, give priority to public transport, tighten traffic and parking management, and control access to vehicles.
Liu noted it is instructive to compare Beijing with Shanghai to see the efficacy of some of these policies. Beijing has over 1.5 million vehicles and a traffic pattern with four circumferential roads. Shanghai has fewer than 600,000 vehicles, one circumferential, a subway, and more extensive control and management of vehicles. By all measures, Shanghai has better control of its vehicle population.
Liu said for smaller cities, control of equity and land use change may be easier. There are hundreds of cities in China with populations between 0.2 million and 2 million that will have to confront these changes. He said they should be encouraged to think small, plan carefully, and manage prudently. Automobile ownership is not the same as auto use, and a comparison of the cases of Bangkok, Thailand, and Curitiba, Brazil, can point the way to some effective strategies. Dr. Liu urged the committee to consider two questions: (1) what is a useful definition of “popular family car,” and (2) what would be the impact on world fuel prices if car ownership were to reach 100 million in China.
Dr. Liu was asked how motorcycles fit into the equation, since China is the world’s largest producer and user of them. He replied that the contrasting examples of Italy, where motorcycle use is declining, and Taiwan, where it is increasing, show that motorcycles have a deservedly bad safety image. He said motorcycles will not replace cars because they are not good for commuting.
Dr. Liu was then asked (1) how China is preparing to control vehicle emissions and (2) how the World Bank and others are lending assistance. He replied that China has adopted “Euro II” standards for air quality. The World Bank will finance vehicle inspection and maintenance facilities, and a non government organization (NGO) will publish the daily pollution level for every city.
A committee member asked Dr. Liu for recommendations for a case study, and whether the World Bank has carried out projections of increased motorization in China. Liu said that there were no projections, but he suggested that a look at a smaller city, perhaps in the Pearl River Delta area, would be valuable.
Dr. Liu was questioned on his concern about the impact on world fuel prices of a hypothetical 100 million Chinese vehicles when the United States already has twice the number of vehicles. Dr. Liu