The city of Ulaanbaatar has taken some steps to alleviate this problem. A new road has opened that connects Olympic street to the Big Ring Road. Some of the alleys between apartment blocks have been upgraded to drivable roads. A pedestrian tunnel was built under the road near the Teacher’s College.
But these small measures have so far had no impact and the traffic continues to worsen by the day. What might help, someday, is the new Big Ring Road being constructed around the city. But this will not be complete for several years.
So can anything be done in the meantime? I think so. In 2008, a few weeks before the Olympics, the authorities in Beijing launched a new traffic scheme. According to the plan, cars that had license plates ending in an odd number were allowed to drive on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Cars that had a license plate ending in an even number could drive on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Anyone could drive on Sunday. A driver driving on the wrong day could be pulled over, fined and have his license suspended. I think such a plan would be worth trying in Ulaanbaatar, at least until a better road network can be constructed. Besides relieving traffic there are other side effects, such as improved air quality and safer streets. The plan would likely increase the use of public transportation, ride sharing or biking. If nothing else, it would get people out of their vehicles and walking more.
Anyone else have any ideas how to alleviate traffic in UB? Please send me your comments.