A 4-Point Plan to Traffic Harmony


I started with my 2nd speech at Toastmasters to post the speech I presented on my Website. Last night, I presented my 3rd speech. The topic was in regards to Beijing Traffic - I presented some ideas on how Beijing could improve what is becoming a disaster. As a disclaimer, I am not an expert in the field of traffic management, nor have I studied the ideas presented in my speech. I’ve only experienced first hand the degrading state of Beijing’s traffic over the last 5 years, primarily as a driver, but also user of the public transit system. And I’ve only experienced bits and pieces of these ideas in different cities around the world (as specified in the speech) and have mostly liked what I’ve seen. Also, this is a 7-minute speech, so I couldn’t go into a lot of detail… I could speak for hours on this topic… And here it is… (comments please!)

Unless you’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of your office or school, I am sure you all experience the daily grind of transit during rush hour. Roads are chalk full of cars. The subway system is not expansive enough. Buses are overcrowded… And it’s getting worse every day! I am going to present you with my “4-Point Plan for Traffic Harmony”. These strategies are used by several cities worldwide and I see no reason why they can’t be implemented here in Beijing! 1. Curb Auto-sales by instituting a license plate quota system 1,000 new cars enter the Beijing road system every day. That’s about 360,000 new cars a year. Beijing already has over 3 million cars – with the road system already swelled, new measures must be taken immediately to slow the car population explosion. Cities like Shanghai and Singapore have a type of vehicle bidding system where the city places a limit on the number of new cars allowed each year. For example, Singapore imposes a limit of 3% of the current number of cars. The price of purchasing a license will depend on market demands. The price goes higher as more bids are made. People ask themselves “Do I really need a car?” 2. Introduce Congestion Zones Singapore and London are two examples of cities who have instituted downtown congestion zone fees. Each car is equipped with a device and stored-value card and each road entering the zone has overhead sensors that, as cars pass under, deducts an amount of money from the car’s stored-value card. This follows the “pay-for-use” concept and those who contribute to congestion more end up paying more. This added fee will encourage drivers to think of alternative routes or transportation methods, or provide them with a smoother ride should they decide to pay the fee. 3. Introduce Public Light Buses Part of the problem that causes congestion on major roads is the high number of large buses. These large buses are slow, especially when accelerating. Hong Kong has an excellent bus system that combines large and small buses, called “Public Light Buses”. These are small buses that only hold 18 people and generally follow a shorter route than their larger counterparts. And because they are small, they are able to drive faster. Beijing can add several thousand of these to the roads, also creating new routes in the process. Passengers will also enjoy greater comfort while traveling due to the 18 pax limit. 4. Introduce Carpool Lanes Beijing already has many bus lanes where access for normal vehicles is controlled by time of day. The city can take this one step further by introducing “car pool lanes”. The idea is cars can only drive in these lanes if they have 2 or more people in them. It would make sense to add these to major roads such as ring roads, boulevards, and expressways. This has the added benefit of discouraging single drivers. To wrap up, I have presented 4 points that will no doubt greatly improve the city’s traffic situation. They are:

  1. Curb Auto-sales by instituting a license plate quota system
  2. Introduce Congestion Zones
  3. Introduce Public Light Buses
  4. Introduce Carpool Lanes

I am confident that with implementing all 4 points swiftly, we could see a real change in the traffic situation for the better, and we won’t have to wait until 2012 when the current Subway expansion plan is realized. You all now need to go out and petition the Beijing Traffic Bureau to implement these points at once!

I tried to add a little humor to keep the audience interested, and I seemed to have gotten good response. Obviously I didn’t give the speech word for word - I actually, while on stage, changed the intro and made it a story instead of just dry commentary.  I also made the ending a bit more dramatic.  I’m such a dramatic person…