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Analysis of Public Opinion on Congestion Charging Policy in Beijing in 2016

Congestion charging (CC) policy has been put on top of the Beijing municipal government’s agenda list as one of the effective measures to deal with serious traffic congestion and air pollution issues. However, as a public policy that is closely linked to residents’ daily travel, successful implementation of CC requires public support. This report, based on the first large-scale public opinion survey of CC policy in Beijing, has been prepared by Beijing Jiaotong University and World Resources Institute. Our research aims to improve understanding of public and business awareness of and attitudes toward CC policy, especially the concerns of those who may be affected by the policy, e.g. vehicle owners, and as a result, to offer technical support for decision-makers engaged in policy implementation. 

Executive Summary

Our research aims to improve understanding of public and business awareness of and attitudes toward CC policy, and to offer technical support for decision-makers engaged in policy implementation. This report has been prepared by Beijing Jiaotong University and World Resources Institute. It is the second in a planned series of papers on “Low Emission Zone /Congestion Charge (LEZ/CC) Public Communication Strategies.” The series will summarize international best practices in public communication and consultation strategies and show the various ways of communicating with the public in decision-making, preparation, and implementation of LEZ/CC policies. The LEZ/CC Public Communication Strategies papers will offer a comprehensive package of public communication strategies that can be used to support successful implementation. The first paper in the series was "International Case Studies on Public Communication and Consultation Strategies for Low Emission Zones and Congestion Charging Schemes" (in English). It studied 10 cases from Europe, Asia, and the United States to highlight the variety of social, political, and environmental contexts within which CC and LEZ schemes were planned and implemented. The Research Problem and MethodologyOur survey is focused on general public (the residents) within the 6th ring road (the urbanized area) and businesses registered in Beijing. Questions covered socioeconomic information about the respondents, their travel behavior, their awareness and knowledge of traffic congestion, and their attitudes to CC. We collected more than 10,000 questionnaires; 8,460 from Beijing residents and 1,797 from businesses. Our report addresses the following questions:What percentage of respondents supports the CC policy?Why do respondents support/oppose the policy?What are the factors affecting public acceptance of the CC policy?How do respondents expect CC revenues to be used?Will the policy be effective in changing the travel behavior of respondents? Findings and RecommendationsRates of support are affected by respondents’ age, nature and location of employment, commuting mode, and level of policy understanding. The survey shows that vehicle owners and those who often drive, respondents aged 30-40, public agency employees, enterprise employees, retirees, and unemployed people tend to oppose the policy.Location, business category, public transport system, and impact on revenue are relevant to rates of support among businesses. Those located in office buildings and in industries like culture, sports, entertainment, real estate, leasing, and commerce are less supportive.Policy understanding has a strong positive relationship with policy support. We suggest that local governments improve public communication on congestion charging policy and fully consider public opinion during the decision-making process, to promote effective policy implementation.Policy outcomes affect policy support. We recommend that the government implement a trial project before formal implementation in order to visualize policy effects and increase public support.

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