Evolution and Effect of Transportation Policy on Public Transit: Lessons from Beijing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - travel demand management, planning - travel demand management, ridership - demand, policy - congestion, policy - sustainable, organisation - management, mode - mass transit


Trip reduction, Travel demand management, Travel behavior, Transportation policy, Transportation demand management, Transit, Traffic congestion, TDM measures, Sustainable transportation, Supply, Public transit, Policy making, Peking (China), Mass transit, Local transit, Level of service, Gridlock (Traffic), Demand, Case studies, Beijing (China)


The United Nations predicts that half the world’s population will live in cities by 2008. Thus, rapid urban sprawl, and especially its traffic congestion, is a global problem. Meeting mobility needs of urban dwellers is critical to sustaining growth and social stability, but many major cities struggle to do so. The evolving situation in Beijing, is examined, and the policy-making process in Beijing is analyzed to understand why transportation problems occur and are intractable and how they can be solved. A structure of policy making is proposed that includes four factors: institutional, travel behavior, ideals, and landmark events. The analysis includes a case study and comparison of transit service in Beijing and other cities, including results from the latest transit level-of-service rider survey in Beijing. It is concluded that an imbalance between transportation supply and demand is the primary cause of traffic congestion. The transportation problem must be solved from two sides: increasing supply and managing demand simultaneously. Public transit, paired with transportation demand management, is an effective approach for sustainable transportation but requires a range of policies.