【英语中国】中国的城市化难题:交通拥堵

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-1-3 11:07

小艾摘要: To understand true gridlock -- and a huge challenge for China's leaders as they try to move residents from the countryside into cities -- take a look at Wuhan. This inland Chinese city of more than e ...
To understand true gridlock -- and a huge challenge for China's leaders as they try to move residents from the countryside into cities -- take a look at Wuhan.

This inland Chinese city of more than eight million people, famous for its hot weather and spicy noodles, has a traffic problem. A 2011 study by investment bank UBS shows cars chug through the city at an average of 12.7 miles an hour, slower than in New York and Tokyo.

Huang Liang, a dance teacher, recalled a scorching day this past summer when his car moved just over a mile in 3 1/2 hours as work on a new elevated highway brought street-level traffic to a standstill. Frustrated and out of gas, Mr. Huang abandoned his car curbside and hitched a ride home from a friend.

'Sitting in the car was like being in a sauna,' he said.

Traffic congestion is one of the biggest headaches for China's new leaders who are banking on an urbanization strategy to help drive economic growth.

In Wuhan, the government is in the midst of a subway-building frenzy -- constructing nine subway lines at the same time. The city is also busy building elevated highways and ring roads.

Yet congestion persists.

To try to fix the problem, about two years ago Wuhan became the first Chinese city to charge electronic tolls to reach its bustling downtown area, joining more-global cities such as London and Singapore.

But that move is also unpopular with some drivers who say the tolls are expensive and ineffective, and illustrates the thorny questions China faces as it tries to get more of its people to move to cities.

The system 'has done little to reduce traffic volume as there is a huge demand from commuters,' said Efan Kang, a financial-industry worker.

Experts say for toll systems to be effective, commuters need to have viable alternatives such as a robust public-transportation system, something that Wuhan is still in the process of building.

China's top leaders last month reaffirmed their intention to bring hundreds of millions of rural dwellers to cities to empower a Chinese consumer class that can help the economy ease its reliance on exports and big government spending.

But many people already living in cities fear China's massive rural population -- which makes up nearly half of the country's 1.3 billion total population -- will strain schools and hospitals and rev up competition for services.

Congestion is part of that equation. In a 2011 survey from International Business Machines Corp. on the emotional and economic toll of commuting, Beijing and the southern boomtown of Shenzhen were second only to Mexico City in terms of commuter misery.

To grapple with congestion and with pollution -- another drawback to growth -- Beijing said last month it would slash the quota of license plates it gives out to 150,000 a year from 240,000. Lanzhou, a city in China's northwestern Gansu province, said recently it would ban cars on alternate days depending on whether the license plate numbers end with an even or odd number until mid-January. According to the Wuhan government, more than 1.45 million motor vehicles were registered in the city as of July. In the past five years, the city has seen a more than 20% annual increase in automobile registrations.

Meanwhile, the length of roads increased only slightly, to about 8,000 miles at the end of 2011 compared with about 7,830 miles at the end of 2010.

City officials in Wuhan declined to be interviewed.

The Yangtze and Han rivers divide Wuhan into three main districts connected by a handful of bridges and a tunnel. Wuhan currently has only two metro lines.

'There are too many people. Public transportation is far from sufficient to satisfy demand,' said King Zhu, a real-estate industry professional.

'Congestion is everywhere. Subways and elevated highways are being built along the vital streets, narrowing the four-lane roads into two-lane ones, and riders of electric bikes always intrude into the motorways,' said Li Fuyuan, a 33-year-old Wuhan taxi driver.

To relieve its clogged thoroughfares, Wuhan introduced its electronic toll-collecting system in 2011. It uses a transponder people carry in their cars, enabling their accounts to be automatically charged. The system charges at least eight yuan (about $1.30) for every use of the bridges and the tunnel.

Fang Ke, lead transport specialist with the World Bank who has worked extensively on transportation projects in Wuhan, said some other approaches to easing congestion being rolled out there may only magnify the problem. Elevated highways, for example, could leave passengers stranded in the air, he said.

'Wuhan chose the wrong development model. . . . If they keep using this kind of approach they will have big problems.'

在中国领导人试图使农村居民移居至城市之际,交通拥堵是他们面临的一个巨大挑战。而要想了解什么是真正的交通拥堵,那就来看一看武汉。

这座拥有800多万人口的中国内陆城市以高温天气和热干面著称,目前正面临交通拥堵问题。瑞士银行(UBS) 2011年发布的一份研究报告显示,在武汉,汽车平均行驶速度为每小时20.4公里,比纽约和东京还慢。

舞蹈老师黄亮回忆起去年夏季酷热的一天,当时他的车在三个半小时内只行进了1.6公里,因为一个高架公路建设项目导致街道交通陷入瘫痪。黄亮当时沮丧不已,车也没油了,他不得不把车停在路边,搭朋友的便车才得以回家。

他说:“坐在车里就像在洗桑拿。”

交通拥堵是中国新一届领导人面临的最棘手的问题之一。他们正指望依靠城镇化战略帮助推动经济增长。

武汉政府正热衷于修建地铁,同时在建的地铁线路有九条。另外,这座城市还在忙着修建高架公路和环形公路。

然而拥堵状况丝毫未减。

为了解决这一问题,大概两年前武汉成为中国首个采用电子收费系统的城市,加入到伦敦、新加坡等国际化都市的行列。

但有些司机并不欢迎这一举措,他们说,收费高了,而且没有效果。这显示出中国在尝试推进城市化之际所面临的棘手问题。

从事金融行业的康亦帆说,因为通勤的需求实在太大了,所以这个电子收费系统基本没有起到分流的作用。

专家们说,要想使电子收费系统发挥效力,需要让通勤者有可行的替代出行方式,比如发达的公共交通系统,而目前武汉仍处在建设公交系统的过程中。

中国的高层领导人上个月重申,计划使数亿农村居民移居至城市,进而提升他们的消费能力,以帮助经济减少对出口和政府高支出的依赖。

但很多已经住在城市的人担心,中国大量农村人口会让学校和医院人满为患,让各项服务的竞争越来越激烈。中国目前人口总数为13亿,其中近一半为农村人口。

拥堵只是问题的一部分。国际商业机器公司(IBM) 2011年对通勤的心理影响和经济影响进行的一次调查显示,在通勤者的痛苦程度方面,北京和深圳仅次于墨西哥城。

为了应对拥堵和污染(增长的另一个弊端),北京上月说将减少小客车指标配置总量,从每年24万个减少至15万个。兰州市不久前说,在中心城区启动单双号限行措施,至2014年1月10日结束。武汉市政府说,截至去年7月份,武汉机动车保有量已达到145万辆,在过去的五年间,该市机动车保有量每年增加超过20%。

与此同时,武汉市公路总里程只微幅上涨,在2011年底达到1.3万公里,相比之下,2010年底为1.26万公里。

武汉市官员以目前城市建设还不到位为由,婉拒了《华尔街日报》的采访。

长江和汉江将武汉分成了三个主城区,各城区之间靠几座桥和一条隧道相连。武汉目前只有两条地铁线。

房地产业内人士朱巍说,人太多了,公共交通根本不能满足需求。

33岁的当地出租车司机李福原说,到处都堵,地铁和高架路就修在主干道边,这样一来四车道就变成了两车道,骑电动车的人还经常开上机动车道。

为了减轻拥堵情况,武汉于2011年开始实施不停车电子收费模式。人们在自己的车里安装一个应答器,这样就可以自动从账户扣款。车辆每次经过电子收费的桥梁和隧道,该系统最低收费八元。

世界银行(World Bank)的首席交通专家方可曾在武汉的交通项目进行过大量的工作,他说,其他一些缓解拥堵的办法可能只会令这个问题进一步恶化,比如,高架路就可能让乘客滞留在空中。

他说,武汉选择了错误的发展模式,如果他们一直用这种办法,就会造成大问题。

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