As part of an extensive strategy to adress pollution, Shanghai, which inaugurated a free trade zone last month and wants to become a global financial center, is now also studying whether tointroduce a traffic congestion levy.
Gao Yiyi, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority, said during a joint departmental briefing that a congestion tax is one of the steps being considered as part of a white paper on transportation.
“Vehicles are a big reason behind the increase in PM2.5 and pollution levels and this is an area of a lot of public concern,” Gao said. “Heavy polluting vehicles is an area where we will strongly control.”
The city also wants to lower its levels of the PM2.5 – the most damaging particulate matter – by 20% by 2017 from last year’s levels, according to the environmental protection bureau. If the idea goes through, Shanghai would be the first in China to impose road taxes, after Singapore and London, which charge drivers more if they go inside city centers during rush hours. Shanghai was also the first in China to limit the number of new vehicle registrations, implementing an auction for the distribution of the license plates.
Shanghai’s strategy mulls a move by Beijing, which this week announced rules that will dramatically reduce the number of government and private vehicles on the roads and close schools when there are forecasts of serious pollution for three consecutive days.