With notoriously bad traffic and pollution, Shanghai may institute a congestion charge, similar to what's been seen in London and Singapore (and considered in San Francisco). The gist of congestion charging is that drivers are charged a small amount for entering a certain part of the city - in the UK, entering central London between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, costs drivers 10 pounds ($16.16).

But where London might have instituted the standards in a bid to cut down on traffic, Shanghai's ultimate goal is to curb its woeful pollution, particularly something called PM2.5, a dangerous type of particulate matter emitted by vehicles. The city is aiming to cut PM2.5 levels by 20 percent in 2017. "Vehicles are a big reason behind the increase in PM2.5 and pollution levels and this is an area of a lot of public concern. Heavy polluting vehicles is an area where we will strongly control," Gao Yiyi, of the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority, said at a departmental briefing, according to Bloomberg.

Shanghai will be the first city in China to institute a congestion charge. It was also the first city in the communist country to limit the number of new vehicles sold, via a license plate auction. While these may be small steps to curb the rampant pollution in Chinese cities, much of which can be attributed to the widespread burning of coal, here's hoping this move has a positive impact.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      Beardinals
      • 1 Year Ago
      Twenty percent?! By the looks of what I've seen, they will need to cut 80% just be livable.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is the coal that is your big problem.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      If $15 a day, five days a week, is a small amount to the author he is more fortunately circumstanced than most. Much of the reason for the congestion charge in London is also to reduce pollution, as London is way over legally enforcible European limits and is going to incur very heavy fines. Levels of pollution in London cause demonstrable effects on health, and reduce life expectancy substantially. Of course it is nothing like levels in some cities in China, which have levels comparable to London in the 50's, which resulted in the great smog, and gave rise to measures to reduce emissions. They are still a killer though, if not on the grand scale of Chinese cities or historical London.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        @ DaveMart £50 per week is certainly a deterrent for some commuters. Saving £2500 per year, along with the fuel savings and £5000 government rebate, makes our fleet of Vauxhall Ampera's, even more affordable, for those of our staff that commute into London. My commute from the Suburb of Richmond-on-Thames, to the City of London is only 16 miles, but it can take 1-2 hours in heavy traffic. My EV is a Liberty Range Rover. Ev's pay no congestion charges, and with a 200 mile range, I have no problems with taking the 'diversions' suggested by the GPS traffic computer to avoid the worst traffic snarls. It's disappointing that more London commuters don't take advantage of zero emission vehicles.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Technoir -- They think they know everything that they need to know about EV's, because they watched Top Gear and heard them rant about how bad EV's are, and how great hydrogen is.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Many of the vehicles affected are company ones. It is even more strange then that costs are ignored, as electric with the congestions charge in London is far, far cheaper. I can only surmise that UK companies are assuming that as soon as EV vehicles become popular, they will be hammered with taxes etc to take away their advantage. I really have no idea though, as I assumed that electric vehicles when they have a cost advantage of hundreds of pounds a year as they have in London would be snapped up. They are not, so I have no idea what they need to be popular. Maybe more range, as in fuel cells, but would have thought that where their range is enough, BEV vehicles would be popular when they save money, as they do in London. They still have derisory sales. If I were American, I might say, go figure.
          Technoir
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Maybe they don't know much about EVs.
      Adam
      • 1 Year Ago
      thats a lot of weird looking VW's lol
        _M_
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Adam
        those are VW Santana, they come from the 80s Passat, with some modifications.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Vehicles are a big reason behind the increase in PM2.5 and pollution levels..." How big? How much of this smog is from vehicles vs other sources such as: * Electricity generation, mostly from coal * Heating of buildings which often use coal or oil * Industry which is not nearly as regulated as in the US * Ships which burn bulk oil coming into port It seems it would be wise to approach the problem incrementally from all sides rather than making the transportation sector bear all of the burden.
        _M_
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        *coal is used in north china, in shanghai most of the electricity comes from nuclear plants. *in shanghai there is no heating that requires coal, they only use air conditioners with heat pump (i wonder if that's the english name, sorry if it's not correct) the good thing that we should learn from them is that cars that do not meet newer emissionstandards cannot pass annual inspection and cannot be used anymore. also, traffic is somehow limited during the day to cars without shanghai plates, which are not allowed to access the highways inside the city, thus making it less convenient to use such cars (which are cheaper because they don't have shanghai plates and do not need to meet recent emission standards). i completely agree that the problem is the industry, but i am not sure about the ships, because the port is really far away from the city, as the airports.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @_M_
          No one uses coal? I find that hard to believe.
          _M_
          • 1 Year Ago
          @_M_
          I didn't say that, i said that *in shanghai* they use way less coal that other cities like beijing where coal is used also for heating.
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ban internal combustion vehicles. Only electric. Would boost China's electric car industry. Put the Party back in rickshaws.
      Kuro Houou
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should make the congestion charge based on your income.. just seems stupid in London where some low wage worker would have to find another way into the city to avoid paying maybe 1/5 of his daily income to go to work. But some rich business guys say who cares and just drives right in. Should be like 2 bucks for the poor guy and 60 for the rich. But we all know that will never happen. Heck I don't even live there and I think its stupid.
        lasertekk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Not doable. There's a huge documented underground economy in China. It would be too difficult to really know anyone's income or origin.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Sounds good intheory, but how do you implement this? What happens when someone gets a higher paying job? Suppose someone gets layed off? What happens when you have someone who is wealthy but only makes a token salary?
          Kuro Houou
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          Well that's for the politicians to work out :) But obviously something needs to be fixed.
        SteveG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Does the amount of pollution your car makes scale with your income? Does a rich guy driving a Tesla pollute more than a poor chap in an old mini? The London congestion charge is about that, congestion. Driving a car in London is stupid. Take the tube. Now the Chinese simply need to make and enforce some pollution regulations. On industry and cars.
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just looking at that photo makes me feel like I'm suffocating.
        Beardinals
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bernard
        There are much worse photos where you can barely see half a block, like a dense fog. UGH!!
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      PM2.5 is from burning coal and old diesel engine - not from gasoline powered cars. Switching to EV powered by hydro, methane or solar will solve most of Shanghai's air pollution problem.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        @ Levine Levine Even when you post something relatively sane, you don't think through the problems. PRC cities, especially Shanghai, have experienced unprecedented explosions in population, created by migration of rural people to the cities. The rapid growth of Shanghai to a city of 25 million people, has overwhelmed it's infrastructure and capacity for urban planning. On the whole, the Shanghai Authorities have coped remarkably well, but only with massive power generation from coal-fired power stations. The Huangpu River is unsuitable to be damed and solar power is impractical on any scale. (the promised 9000 kw from all three solar plants, has yet to materialize). Modernization of the transport fleet is occurring, but despite the best efforts of the city government, trucks and heavy transport are beyond it's jurisdiction. The Shanghai Authorities have encouraged LPG and natural gas plants, along with wind farms. But alternate energy is little more than a token gesture, in the face of such overwhelming logistics. The PRC's is investing heavily in Nuclear power generation as a solution for cleaner energy. More than 100 PRC nuclear power plants are to be built ( by Westinghouse ) over the next 15 years. Shanghai, is a priority for Nuclear power generation. Giant problems call for giant solutions, the Shanghai government must deal with the problems of rapid urbanization on a massive scale. In a city expecting to add the equivalent of population of Los Angeles over the next five years, nothing but vast scale solutions will have any effect. Shanghai has made a start by relocating much of it's industry away from the city centre, but this in turn bring new problems for infrastructure.
      ngiotta
      • 1 Year Ago
      London did it to help balance to books-- not for pollution or traffic. The National Health Service is projected to be in the red to the tune of $47B by 2020. They had to figure out a way to exact another tax on their citizens that could afford it. What better way than commuters in London? China on the other hand.... holy cow. Perhaps they should mirror CARB regulations for vehicle emissions and add stricter standards to diesels. Especially since all of those studies coming out that link cancer to breathing polluted air. One thing is for sure, there's no way all of that pollution is from vehicles alone.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ngiotta
        @ ngiotta "London did it to help balance to books" WTF ? Congestion charges in London have nothing to do with the National Health Service ! London Congestion charges are imposed by the Greater London Authority, not the UK government, which is responsible for the national Health Service.
        _M_
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ngiotta
        By the way, in China diesels are forbidden in most big cities, not even EUROVI or hybrid diesel are allowed.
          Technoir
          • 1 Year Ago
          @_M_
          M Where did u read this???? I see old belching diesel vehicles all over China.
          _M_
          • 1 Year Ago
          @_M_
          only in the big cities. and I was not clear enough, I was talking about cars, maybe diesel trucks are allowed. For example, the new Volvo that uses a diesel hybrid, in china will not use the same engine because diesels are not allowed (in the big cities, where people who can afford it lives)
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      The evil thing about congestion charges and license plate auctions, is that it basically prices poor people out of owning cars. This is horribly unfair. I agree something needs to be done about congestion and pollution. But they should do it by random lottery. That way, no matter how rich you are, you still have to put in your sacrifice just like everyone else.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        Poor people in Shanghai absolutely should not be in the business of owning cars. Public transport in urban Shanghai is quite well-developed.
          James John
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          Why shouldn't they own cars? It's like saying people of Chicago should not be owning cars. The Chinese govt brought this on to themselves with their growth policies. They made their bed and now they have to sleep in it.
      jaybee2494
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think there's a bit of confusion as to what a 'congestion charge' is. The London C-Charge is a fixed $15 daily fee for driving anywhere inside the zone at peak hours. You only pay once, and if you live inside the zone you get a 90% discount. It's not a big deal as cars are only useful in London in the evenings and weekends, when there is no charge. Singapore has two systems - a license plate quota/auction and auto-toll barriers on major roads. You get automatically charged $1-2 when you drive under toll-barriers. The timing and prices of the barriers is changed to ease traffic flow by encouraging people to use a different route, or travel at a different time. The real killer in Singapore is the license plate auction, where prices can be over $100,000. Shanghai already has a Singapore style license plate auction, and collaborates with the Singapore government on urban planning. Seems likely that any congestion charge would also be toll-barrier based and aim to influence traffic flow.
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