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Shanghai panic over traffic jam
AFAR
9/9/2003



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SHANGHAI, CHINA - Although Gonghelu suspension bridge, Lupu Bridge have been built and put into use, traffic jams in Shanghai seem to be always one step ahead of new road construction. In recent years, Shanghai resident’s incomes have increased but car prices have decreased. More and more people are buying their own cars.

A Taiwan businessman flew from Beijing to Shanghai for a meeting. He was picked up at the airport. The driver took the Yan’an bridge heading to the east. But as soon as they passed the inner-ring Zhongshanbeilu road, they were caught by traffic.

This happens to most people in Shanghai. It is very common to spend 10 minutes to cover 500 meters during peak times. “Very sorry, but it’s the same on or off the bridge”, taxi drivers have to comfort their customers. Some days ago, the traffic jams and the heat caused serious pollution to the air. Policemen have to wear masks while guiding traffic.

Shanghai used to control the numbers of private vehicles. To expand the automobile industry, and also because everyone wants to own a car, the number of private vehicles in the city has increased from 7000 five years ago to 170,000 today. This accounts for 40% of all the vehicles in Shanghai.

The Shanghai government has had to control the increase of state-owned vehicles and taxies so that more people can buy their own cars. But the distribution of licenses is still under control. A car license in Shanghai is permanent to its owner. So the licenses are often put to auction. Last year, a license was sold for 8,000 Yuan, but this year the price has gone up to 38,000 to 40,000 Yuan.

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