”WHERE were you 'trapped' today?”
According to taxi driver Yao Shan, many of his fellow taxi drivers in the Chinese capital have developed the habit of “greeting” each other this way after a day's work, referring to where they were caught in a traffic congestion.
At 36, Yao has been a driver for nearly 20 years.
“I am seriously considering whether to switch to another job,” he tells Xinhua.
During rush hours, nearly half of his time on road is wasted in traffic jams.
He said: “Sometimes I tell my passengers to get off if they like, or we would both feel uncomfortable watching the fast-running odometer.”
The Beijing Municipal Traffic Management Bureau admits that every day, 40% of the city's wage earners spend at least one hour commuting between their homes and workplaces, and that only 5.5% of them are able to reach their workplaces in less than 20 minutes.
In many places in downtown Beijing, cars and buses have to inch forward at a snail's pace during rush hours.
In 1994, the speed averaged 45kph for vehicles on roads within the Third Ring Road.
Right now, it is no more than 20kph, and in some busy intersections it can be 7kph.
Drivers, like Yao, expect the new traffic law which took effect from Saturday, will help ease the congestion, as unethical driving practices of many on the wheel are an important factor for the jams.
According to the bureau, 1,018 traffic accidents are reported in the city every day, and 80% of them are caused by “apprentice drivers” – those who have just obtained a driving licence after a couple of weeks' training at a driving school.
With the promulgation of the Law on Road Traffic and Safety, tougher penalties will be levied on traffic violators and drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians are expected to behave in manners more conducive to the smooth flow of traffic.
However, many are still not optimistic. There are people who attribute the traffic congestion to the rapid increase in the number of private cars. – China Daily