Regulating Car Ownership Growth in Chinese Mega Cities

TitleRegulating Car Ownership Growth in Chinese Mega Cities
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsXiaojie Chen
Academic DepartmentDept. of Civil Engineering
DegreeMaster of Applied Science
UniversityUniversity of British Columbia
Thesis TypeMaster of Applied Science

Overpassing the United States, China has become the world’s largest automobile market causing transportation problems as traffic congestion. Various congestion mitigation policies have been adopted and this thesis focuses on the policy curbing car purchase in Shanghai and Beijing. Shanghai was the first Chinese city to implement a vehicle quota control policy using monthly auction in 1994. In 2011, Beijing started curbing car purchases through car license lottery policy requiring no cost. Focusing on Shanghai’s policy, this thesis evaluates the two car ownership policies and their public acceptance. License auction policy in Shanghai is effective in dampening car ownership growth as well as generating large revenue. Despite these successes, the degree to which the public accepts this policy is relatively low. Although the public perceives the policy to be effective and indicates an increase in acceptance, they are negative toward affordability, equity and the implementation process. Local car owners in Shanghai’s policy show the highest support and most positive attitude. This suggests that giving lifelong license entitlement, local car owners in Shanghai become an interest group in supporting the policy and the policy may gain more support as more people own local license. There are also many residents getting non-local license outside Shanghai for cheaper price. High penetration of non-local vehicles in Shanghai causes problems in traffic management and waters down effectiveness of the policy. Shanghai is facing the dilemma between banning non-local vehicles for congestion mitigation and remaining open for economic growth. Compared to Shanghai’s auction, Beijing’s lottery is similar in effectiveness but less efficient. Learning from Shanghai’s experience, Beijing’s lottery policy is designed to address the equity issue of favouring the rich, but the equity obtained from the lottery policy is superficial. Policy recommendations are also provided to improve both policies. Shanghai could consider sub-categorize the auction, forming dedicated policy web site, and set different parking charges for non-local vehicles. Beijing should set entry cost to lottery, and treat people at different locations differently. Both policies should reduce the privilege for government vehicles, limit the license entitlement period, and supplement with usage control.


Supervised by Jinhua Zhao