“Asian Review 054” ―Chinese Megacities part 3
Can Beijing Be an Advanced City? How about MaaS?
Beijing has a population of 21.5 million, the second largest in China. The car ownership rate is also top class, with more than 3 million vehicles owned. As mentioned in December 2017, “Tokyo Review special edition 005: History of TOD (5)” (Tokyo’s miracle—Traffic situation compared with Beijing), traffic congestion in Beijing is chronic. It has been more than two years since then, but the situation seems to have not changed at all.
Giving up improving the traffic situation in Beijing, Chinese Central Government has finally begun to correct excessive concentration in Beijing. “Xiong’an New District” is being constructed as a place to relocate non-capital functions among the urban functions in Beijing, and the company’s headquarters is being relocated there. In Xiong’an New District, along with the drastic measures such as constructing a public transportation network, the government is considering to builf an underground passage that can only be used by autonomous vehicles.
Baidu, based in Beijing, one of the three major Chinese IT companies called “BAT”, seems to be conducting research on AI and surrounding technologies by enclosing excellent human resources, and MaaS (Mobility as a Service) must be their subject. In China, people have already accustomed to call taxies and exclusive cars by smartphone apps and to make cashless payments. They only need a few steps to complete a kind of MaaS by forming discount services combining subways and buses etc.
As the land is huge, traveling between large cities in China is likely to be made by airplane when the distance is medium to long, while it is likely to be made by high speed railway when it is about 300 km or less. And it sometimes happens when you move from one Tier-2 city to another, when it is most convenient to use a combination of an airplane and a high-speed railway. There are a lot of stopover options, and it is difficult to find the best combination, but you are in China, there is an app for smartphones where you can find the best route for such a combination. It can be said to be a kind of large-scale MaaS.
In Beijing, there are also many futuristic architectural works such as Wangjing SOHO and Daxing International Airport, both of which are works by Zaha Hadid Architects. Baring the central government in its center, Beijing’s citizens have high consciousness toward the advanced city.