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The idea that China’s roads are mostly populated by bicycles is unfortunately a fading concept. In many major Chinese cities, traffic congestion is a massive problem, and cities like Shanghai and Beijing suffering heavy air pollution as a result. However, the Chinese city of Guangzhou has decided to take action by limiting car registrations through a license plate lottery. While it will likely cut down on air pollution, the move has also raised concerns about fairness.
The move was announced last month when Guangzhou said it would be allocating the city’s annual 120,000 new car registration quota through the lottery and auction models. A total of 5,640 applicants were awarded plates at Monday’s lottery, where the average bid for a license plate for a private car stood at approximately $3,622.54.
While the move has been lauded as an environmental remedy, others have said that the restriction fosters inequality. One Chinese blogging site said that the car restriction improves traffic at the expense of the people’s rights to own and use cars. However Chen Rugui, deputy mayor of Guangzhou, has said that traffic congestion and the rapid growth of car ownership in the city has forced the government to implement the new restriction. In May, the city had a total of 2.405 million new cars, which was 2.5 times the number Guangzhou had just five years ago.
However Wu Song, general manager of the passenger vehicle unit of the Guangzhou Automobile Group, has said that the lottery and auction policy is just a temporary solution, and the root cause of gridlock is flawed road planning and inefficient transportation management. He added that the most effective ways to improve traffic and air quality are to develop public transportation options and promote the use of low-emission cars. It looks like Guangzhou will also be tackling this problem as well with Deputy Mayor Chen saying that the city will invest 270 billion yuan over the next four to five years to improve transportation infrastructure construction.