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April 12, 2011

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Traffic congestion still serious, police say

TRAFFIC jams are still serious in Shanghai despite the introduction more than one month ago of a policy limiting vehicles with out-of-town plates from using elevated roads during peak hours, city police said yesterday.

Zhu Weiming, deputy director of the city's police department, said traffic police are reporting congestion on more roads and that gridlock is also now more common in the suburbs.

But Zhu added that stricter measures would not be introduced as the congestion was still "under control."

The ban on out-of-town vehicles from using elevated roads at peak times "was not a good idea, but we had to do it," Zhu said.

Complaints have mounted about traffic congestion, especially on elevated roads.

Police named the 90 places that experience the most congestion with Yan'an Elevated Road and the North-South Elevated Road topping the list.

Police said the number of vehicles with out-of-town plates using elevated roads during peak hours had declined 60 percent since the ban began.

Police said there are more than 400,000 vehicles with out-of-town plates in the city. Many drivers of these vehicles risk being fined by driving on elevated roads at peak times.

Violators will be fined 200 yuan (US$30), police said. But drivers have been found removing their out-of-town plates or using cloth to cover plate numbers to dodge checks, police said.

An increase in cars and illegal parking has also contributed to traffic snarls, according to police.

One in every five households in Shanghai owns a car and the total number of vehicles with Shanghai plates has reached more than 1.7 million, police said.

Cars are running slower on downtown roads during peak hours compared to six years ago, one government study showed.

Morning and afternoon rush hour driving speeds on main roads inside the Inner Ring Road have dropped to 16 kilometers per hour and 15km/h respectively - down 9 and 3 percent from 2004, when the authorities last carried out the survey.


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