The Wall Street Journal’s Colum Murphy checks in from Wuhan, where chronic traffic congestion threatens to undermine the government’s push for urbanization:
This inland Chinese city of more than eight million people, famous for its hot weather and spicy noodles, has a traffic problem. A 2011 study by investment bank UBS shows cars chug through the city at an average of 12.7 miles an hour, slower than in New York and Tokyo.
Huang Liang, a dance teacher, recalled a scorching day this past summer when his car moved just over a mile in 3½ hours as work on a new elevated highway brought street-level traffic to a standstill. Frustrated and out of gas, Mr. Huang abandoned his car curbside and hitched a ride home from a friend.
[…] In Wuhan, the government is in the midst of a subway-building frenzy—constructing nine subway lines at the same time. The city is also busy building elevated highways and ring roads.
Yet congestion persists. [Source]
Efforts by officials to alleviate the problem have had little effect. Wuhan authorities implemented an electronic toll system in the city center, similar to systems in London and Singapore, but congestion persists in the absence of transportation alternatives that have yet to be completed.
Murphy goes on to reference a 2011 report by IBM which claimed that only commuters in Mexico City faced more misery than those in Beijing and Shanghai. In August of last year, the South China Morning Post reported that netizens had dubbed Beijing “Shoudu” – capital of traffic jams.