Managing Cars in Chinese Mega Cities

Managing Cars in China

China’s astronomical growth in automobile conceals significant variations between cities. While Shanghai and Beijing each had about 2 million motor vehicles in 2004, by 2010 Beijing has 4.8 million and Shanghai only 3.1 million. Vehicle owners made up 38% of Beijing households in 2011 in contrast to 18% in Shanghai. Crucial historical and present policy differences influence their effectiveness, revenue, efficiency, equity, and public acceptance. Two decades ago Shanghai opted for a monthly license auction to control vehicle ownership, while Beijing had little control over usage or ownership until the 2008 Olympics. Shanghai’s active and early policy intervention helps explain the difference in ownership growth.

Extraordinary growth calls for extraordinary measures. Boldness in both infrastructure development and policy design seems commonplace in China's urban transportation arena. This project, however, aims to present some of the subtleties in these bold designs using Shanghai license auction policy and Beijing's license lottery policy as a case. Subtleties exist in public attitude towards government policies, in the pricing mechanism and revenue consequences, in the purposeful policy leakage, and in the contrasting equity and efficiency orientations. 

Part I: Evolving Demand Drivers

Part II: Three Models: Experiments by Chinese Cities

Part III: Commonality in Transportation Policy Making

Part IV: Eventuality of Car Managment Policies

[Image: Chang'an avenue in Beijing by Australian Cowboy]