Wise gov­er­nance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

In­stead of con­trol­ling the num­ber of ve­hi­cles, lo­cal gov­ern­ments should sci­en­tif­i­cally “con­trol the city’s ca­pac­ity”, which means de­vel­op­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion to of­fer other ways for res­i­dents to get about.

With the aim of re­duc­ing con­ges­tion and com­bat­ing air pol­lu­tion, China’s north­ern city of Tian­jin has be­come the lat­est to try and limit the num­ber of cars on its roads. The city au­thor­i­ties an­nounced on Sun­day that from the fol­low­ing day mo­torists would have to ob­tain a li­cense plate by ei­ther bid­ding in an auc­tion or tak­ing part in a lot­tery, and cars will be banned from the road for one day a week ac­cord­ing to the last digit of their num­ber plate start­ing March 1. The an­nounce­ment led to a rush of peo­ple buy­ing new ve­hi­cles in the city.

The re­stric­tions might be con­sid­ered an early de­ci­sion, but more long-term strate­gies need to be con­sid­ered, says a com­men­tary in Peo­ple’s Daily.

The traf­fic pres­sure in Tian­jin is al­ready heavy — the city’s pop­u­la­tion is 14 mil­lion and there are 2.4 mil­lion mo­tor ve­hi­cles and 50,000 large trucks on the roads — and the au­thor­i­ties have to ad­dress traf­fic con­ges­tion in a more fun­da­men­tal way.

The ex­pe­ri­ences of other big cities that have al­ready adopted such mea­sures, such as Bei­jing and Shang­hai, show they are not a long-term so­lu­tion. Fun­da­men­tally, city au­thor­i­ties need to try and re­al­ize sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

Just like a safe driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence some­times re­quires us­ing a car’s head­lights on high beam to see as far as pos­si­ble up the road ahead, a com­bi­na­tion of diver­si­fied mea­sures should be taken that shine a light along the de­vel­op­ment road as far ahead as pos­si­ble.

Lim­it­ing the num­ber of cars is not the aim, but rather a mea­sure to re­al­ize the ul­ti­mate goal of safe, con­ve­nient and green trans­porta­tion.

Cur­ing ur­ban dis­eases, such as air pol­lu­tion and traf­fic con­ges­tion, is a tough test for ad­min­is­ters and their man­ag­ing abil­i­ties. In the long run, there­fore, in­stead of con­trol­ling the num­ber of ve­hi­cles, lo­cal gov­ern­ments should sci­en­tif­i­cally “con­trol the city’s ca­pac­ity”, which means de­vel­op­ing pub­lic trans­port to of­fer other ways for res­i­dents to get about.

Man­age­ment on high beam means look­ing ahead and an­tic­i­pat­ing po­ten­tial prob­lems.

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