Gridlock in Beijing as Commuters Shun Public Transport

This article first appeared on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal.

  • Peak hour road congestion exceeding normal levels in Beijing
  • Commuters fearing virus spread are preferring to drive

Peak-hour morning traffic in Beijing has surged as commuters shun public transport in favor of their cars amid continued concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

Despite lockdowns being lifted, it is no surprise that people are hesitant to board crowded commuter trains and are instead preferring to drive. Data for weekday subway passenger numbers on the Beijing network show a recovery to only 52% of the pre-virus average. This compares with morning peak-hour road congestion that is now 50% above normal levels.

The trends in Beijing and other Chinese cities provide a bellwether for how people are likely to behave as lockdowns are lifted around the world. The reluctance of commuters to use public transport may also be compounded by capacity restrictions and social distancing measures on trains and in stations.

Increased car use will provide a lift to gasoline demand that has been badly hit by the lockdowns, but gridlocked cities will create another problem for municipal governments struggling to get their cities back to work.

Clients can find the full report “Covid-19 Indicators Update: China Focus” on the Terminal or on web.  

BNEF Shorts are research excerpts available only on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal, highlighting key findings from our reports. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact us.

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