Beijing surpasses 4 million cars
December 16, 2009 | Posted by Chris
For the first time, this weekend the number of automobiles in Beijing is expected to surpass 4 million, according to Xinhua News. The figure comes from the Beijing Municipal Traffic Management Bureau, which estimates that this past Sunday the number of cars in Beijing hit the 3.99 million mark. The pace amounts to 2,000 new cars purchased daily, a rate that makes Beijing one of the fastest-growing automobile markets in the world. (Interesting fact: Beijing's first million cars were acquired over a period of 48 years from 1949-97, the second million in 6.5 years, the third million in 3.75 years, and the fourth million in about 2.6 years.) This benchmark implies that 1 in every 4 Beijingers now drives in the city, a fact supported by the infamous congestion on Beijing's roadways. "More than 90 percent of Beijing's roads [are] overloaded. The growth of road construction is much slower than that of the vehicles," says Zhang Jingchun of the Beijing Municipal Traffic Management Bureau. In response to congestion on its roadways, the city has been vigorously developing its public transportation infrastructure, most notably embarking on an ambitious plan to expand its subway system to 170 miles by 2010 and to 350 miles by 2020.