Beijing has made a drastic move in trying to reduce pollution and congestion in the city, which reportedly has 3.4 million vehicles on the road, and still increasing! It has banned certain cars from being used on certain days.

Basically it works like this – cars with number plates ending with 1 and 6 are banned on Mondays, 2 and 7 are banned on Tuesday, 3 and 8 are banned on Wednesdays, 4 and 9 are banned on Thursday, and 5 and 0 are banned on Fridays. All cars can travel on weekends. This will last for a 6 month trial. The cities of Shanghai and Jiangsu will follow this ban albeit a more relaxed version – the ban will only affect vehicles that belong to the government, or government-linked companies.

Apparently future amendments to the system will include a variable ban which allows more cars on the road when the air quality is good, but ban up to half of the cars on the road whenever the air condition is bad such as above 300 points on the Air Pollution Index. Anything above 100 is harmful to children and old folks. They are also mulling the idea of a congestion charge to enter the city.

I cannot begin to imagine how frustrating this is for the Chinese folk, especially since there are bound to be some areas not covered well by public transport. Some families, especially well to do ones, are purchasing third or fourth cars with different number plates to go around this new ruling.

If we ever read about the Transport Minister and his entourage making a “study trip” to Beijing… we’d all better be afraid, VERY afraid. You never know when they may randomly pick up ideas like this to justify their existence, despite our public transport system being in a sorry state, according to the PM himself when he tried it out some time ago.