Beijing city currently has 5 million cars.

Beijing – The Beijing government announced Thursday it will limit the number of new car licenses it will issue in the coming year. Traffic congestion has gotten so severe this measure is seen as a better-late-than-never solution.

Under the new policy, Beijing will only issue 240,000 new license plates and implement “harsh traffic control measures,” Xinhua reports.

To compare, in 2010, more than 700,000 new cars were sold in Beijing.

As Xinhua writes, many Chinese people are going online to call this decision the “toughest congestion-tackling measure in history”. Starting Friday, “Beijing car buyers will have to draw lots before obtaining a car license plate, said Zhou Zhengyu, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government.”

The Toronto Star reports on a global survey finding Beijing is tied with Mexico City for the world’s worst commute. The Star writes, “Worries are growing that Beijing is choking itself for future growth as it gets more difficult to move people and goods around the city.”

Under the new rules, a Beijing driver can only own one car in his or her name.

Xinhua details the other traffic control policies designed to ease congestion in the core:

• Adjusted parking fee standards in non-residential areas, taking April 1, 2011. Parking fees inside the 5th Ring Road will be charged per 15 minutes rather than per 30 minutes.
• Parking fees in the city will rise from 2 yuan to 10 yuan per hour.
• Cars registered outside of Beijing will be banned from being driven inside the 5th Ring Road Monday to Friday during the rush hours of 7 to 9 a.m.and 5 to 8 p.m.

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