China on Wheels
- The Transformation of Peronsal Mobility in China
“China on Wheels” midterm report: drive by the wheel, stuck by the wheel
Oct 27, 2011
– by Ace Xin
“We left Bejing for Inner Mongolia at noon hoping we can miss the traffic, but we ran in to a massive traffic jam and were stuck for hours. I even had time to do an interview with one of the truck drivers.” Editor and Publisher of CBU Wayne W.J. Xing came back from the expedition “China on Wheels” and gave a report about the findings.
According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Public Security, China automobile ownership in China has reached 207 million units. In the first half of the expedition, the team encountered traffic jams in every city regardless of its size. Xing believes this is partly due to the fact that most cities in China where originally design to a accommodate bike cycles rather than cars.
The demand for personal transportation is far more than the government could have imagine. According to Xing, there are 2035 registered taxies in Suining Sichuan province. But the number of unregistered illegal taxi is twice as much. An illegal taxi driver told Xing that he can cover the investment of the car within two years.
A 27 year tour guide described his village full of cars. He lives in a small village with 400 household, about 2000 residents. This village owns about 2000 motorcycles, 30 micro van, 25 low speed trucks and 4 heavy-duty trucks.
But many of these cars don’t operate in a friendly environment. “In China, when you talk about efficiency, it means driving in bomb shell roads with an average speed under 40 km/h.” For many truck drivers, driving cheap is efficiency because most of them are pay by the hour, not by the distances they cover. “When we talk about efficiency in China, you have to keep that in mind.”