A bus carrying some members of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), travels along Chang'an Avenue after the opening ceremony Sunday afternoon, with no police outriders clearing the roads ahead. Photo: CFP
Drivers in the capital have reacted positively to news that traffic will not be disrupted so much as before during the annual two sessions, meetings of China's top political advisory and legislative bodies, which started Sunday.
In previous years, during the two sessions, traffic authorities implemented strict traffic controls, often closing down entire lanes to allow vehicles carrying deputies and delegates to pass ahead of regular commuters.
But this year, delegates will have to wait for traffic lights, with no police outriders clearing the roads ahead.
This is in keeping with the themes of frugality promoted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who made a recent call to give "honor to frugality and shame to extravagance," the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.
According to Beijing Traffic Management Bureau (BTMB), there will be other measures to ensure smooth traffic, including allowing regular cars to drive in bus lanes and using two helicopters to keep an eye on traffic conditions. The bureau will announce any traffic control measures two hours before meetings start and one hour before ending via media and the Internet.
Jiang Jing, the media officer of BTMB, said that motorcades will not be able to run red lights this year.
"The policy is to ensure deputies can attend sessions on time while also minimizing the affects on traffic," she said.
Central areas, such as the west side road of Tiananmen Square where vehicles for the sessions park, will still be under traffic control regulations.
"This is for convenience to the deputies," she said.
A taxi driver, surnamed Liang, from Beijing Shouqi Taxi Company, said the new approach is good since everyone should be equal on the road.
"In previous years during the two sessions, I was often stuck on Chang'an Avenue for around 40 minutes, and once, a passenger was furious since he was late to catch his flight," he said.
"There were sometimes traffic restrictions more than twice a day," he said.
Liang said that despite the lighter traffic restrictions, he has still avoided Chang'an Avenue this year just in case there are any problems.
Wang Donglin, a delegate of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from Jiangxi Province, told Xinhua Saturday that the new policy had meant the coach he was on with other attendees had been trapped in congestion for a short while on the journey from the airport to the hotel.
"Though we were not greeted with fresh flowers at the airport or escorted by police cars along the road, I still felt good. It was like making a day-to-day trip to attend an ordinary meeting," Wang said, according to Xinhua.