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More torment for drivers in Ulaanbaatar

Life in the capital city is becoming more and more problematic and one of the main causes is traffic congestion.

The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E.Bat-Uul, frequently mentions that expenses for people living in capital cities are higher and advised residents to be more frugal in accordance with world standards. The mayor is quick to impose his views onto others, and lately, he’s been peddling ideas for one of Ulaanbaatar’s urgent issues: traffic congestion. His first idea was to restrict cars by their number plates, and started implementing traffic regulations.

Statistics on paper indicate that traffic congestion has decreased by some 30 percent, but who knows how effective it is in reality. People have already adapted to this change, implemented for some time, as if it’s normal. The mayor’s statement, “When road projects are finished and congestion decreases, number plate restrictions will be cancelled,” is probably impossible now. Destruction of this restriction is long forgotten as the next operation to “torment” cars is ready to begin.

The next resolution to torment cars was discussed by the District Council and drew closer to approval, as the number of vehicles is soaring along with population growth. In the draft resolution, roads are to become toll ways, meaning a fee (or toll) will be assessed for passage. Specifically, passage from the western crossroad of Ulaanbaatar to the 13th district intersection, from Geser Church (near the 3rd and 4th khoroos) to the western intersection of Sansar Tunnel, and forward from J.Sambuu Street,Youth Avenue, and Beijing Street to Peace Avenue, are subjects in the frameworks of the resolution. Passenger cars will pay 50,000 MNT, while vehicles with up to 1.5 ton carrying capacity will pay 40,000 MNT a month. Drivers who don’t pay will not be able to drive on these roads from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As written in the presentation by the Transportation Authority, people’s purchasing power has enhanced, resulting in an increase in the amount of cars on roads, which has made cars driving through downtown “undefeatable.” They evaluated that traffic decreased by limiting number plates issued in the country.  According to statistics from the capital city’s police department, the number of vehicles in Ulaanbaatar increased by 191.88 in 2012 and by 116.24 in 2013.

In line with constructing toll ways, the city’s public transportation network and planning will be reviewed, an electronic payment system will be introduced, and monthly tickets will be developed, as mentioned during the presentation. The Transportation Authority calculates that the number of passengers will increase as the public transportation network and planning is upgraded, within the framework of this project intended to keep people from entering the city, behind the guise of introducing a new system. Particularly, to improve the city’s transportation sector (which never had a remarkable reputation), people are encouraged to travel on only buses, instead of driving cars. This will secure funds and enable the sector to them more effectively.

Drivers didn’t purchase their cars with the city administration’s money. Roads in the city were built with the people’s paid taxes, so why should they pay more money to use them?

Deputy Mayor of the Capital City N.Gantumur stated, “The quantity of cars increased as roads improved and widened. Many drivers drive aimlessly near the city center. There’s evidence from the Traffic Police and Road Authority reporting that 30 to 40 percent of all cars wander aimlessly. Cars driving in congested areas must be taxed,” and added that traffic congestion will be cut by some 30 percent. He didn’t explain on what basis this would occur, he said “wanders aimlessly” and pointed fingers at the people providing taxi services when inquired about who these “aimless wanderers” were. Instead of giving concrete proof and evidence of expected outcomes from research, these authorities couldn’t devise a better method, other than direct supervision, patrols, and filling their pockets with the little cash left in people’s wallets.

Research proves that 14 to 30 percent of air pollution is caused by cars. Although their idea to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as improve the public transportation sector is correct, their solution to punish drivers and collect fees is not quite right. There are many urgent projects including expediting road traffic by sorting out pedestrian streets and traffic lights that are placed a few steps away from one another, and eliminating more critical factors polluting the air. Tormenting cars is definitely not the best method. Foreign countries do have practices of assessing fees for passage on main streets and roads of their capital cities. Mongolia can’t walk at the same pace as other countries by adopting this standard. Roads in foreign countries aren’t tortuous, narrow or wrecked like Mongolia’s.

Source: Unuudur, http://mongolnews.mn/i/54018

 

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=11396

Posted by on Aug 17 2014. Filed under Community, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “More torment for drivers in Ulaanbaatar”

  1. It is quite sad to notice that the poor will pay the price for those new policies to reduce traffic jam, but that’s also the reason why it might be more efficient since the less money you have the less you’re likely to take the road if it’s not absolutely needed. Then, the use of the money made like that by the city should be transparent and open to citizen’s control. Why not using it to develop pedestrian’s safety ? The new yarmag road is great but it has one big result : people drive faster, while their driving behavior stays very dangerous. Few days ago, at the entrance of Viva City, we could see a dead body, an innocent man hit by cars who consider pedestrians as obstacles. Well, everywhere else in the world, pedestrian’s safety is the priority. When Mongolians will be tired to loose their loved ones on stupid accidents that could be avoided, maybe they’ll start considering caring about road’s safety, building special infrastructure for pedestrians, better police control over speed limits and drunk driving… all things that are cheaper than building roads and that save lives. How come a country with so few roads has car accident as the second cause of unatural deaths after alcohol ? Here is the main issue for the people, we can’t adress roads issues without caring about pedestrian’s safety anymore in UB, it’s time to care, it’s time to take action, it’s time to change…

  2. Congestion charges are a form of regressive taxation (they hurt the poor more than the rich) but they do work. London has been transformed by such a charge, with far fewer private cars in central London. There are, however, far more buses now and mass transit is relatively reliable.

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