|Public parking fees in 13 of Beijing's busiest areas will double their current prices at the beginning of April, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.
The "Beijing News" reports that the 13 areas include Wangfujing, the Lufthansa Center and Beijing Railway Station. The current parking fee of 2.5 yuan for 30 minutes will be increased to 5 yuan for half an hour within the first hour, and 15 yuan per hour afterwards. Prices for parking outside roads and on underground lots will also increase, but will be lower.
The commission says the purpose of the increase is to adjust traffic volumes through different pricing levels, reduce traffic congestion in busy areas and encourage citizens to use public transport.
All the 13 areas affected by the price increase are commercial, entertainment or office areas with huge vehicle volumes and heavy traffic, which almost cover all the most crowded areas of the capital and take up 5 percent of the city's parking spaces. The range of crowded places will be adjusted according to the effects of the new policy and the changes in transportation situations.
Parking fees in residential areas and commercial areas with less traffic will not be increased. Fees for night parking in these areas will also remain the same.
Those who work in areas where parking fees will be increased will have to add up to 75 yuan to their daily eight-hour parking fee.
A woman surnamed Jiang who works in the Wangfujing area and planned to buy a car this year said she would postpone her purchase because of the parking fee increase.
Another woman surnamed Zhu who has already bought a car said she would avoid driving her car to the crowded areas with higher parking fees in the future. She also said that while the government encourages car purchases through preferential policies on the one hand, it is increasing costs for car owners by raising parking fees. She hopes that Beijing's government departments will solicit more public opinions before issuing such policies in the future.
Officials from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said the price increase was published without a public hearing because parking fees are not on the city's price hearing list. It also said it would recheck information on parking lots and publish it on the internet for public review before the new parking fees go into effect.
The city will increase public transportation around the areas affected by the parking fees increase to provide more alternatives for commuters.
Ou Guoli, a professor on economics and management at Beijing Jiaotong University, said the parking fee increase is acceptable. As traffic problems become more acute in Beijing, they will require different levels of parking fees in busy areas to reduce traffic pressure, Ou said.
Ou also suggested that related municipal government departments record vehicle volumes in the areas affected by the parking fee increases to observe the effects of the adjustment.
As of March 2009, there were more than 1.1 million parking spaces on Beijing's 4,855 commercial parking lots, while the number of vehicles in the city exceeded four million.
According to the statistics of the Beijing Finance Bureau, fees for parking on roads contributed 33.72 million yuan, or around 5 million U.S. dollars, to the capital's revenue last year.