THE city has introduced a dedicated lane for carpoolers, or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane, limited to vehicles with at least one passenger during morning rush hours on weekdays on Meiguan Expressway starting yesterday.
The 7.9-kilometer HOV lane runs southward from Huawei Exit of Meiguan Expressway in Bantian, Longgang District to Minle Flyover in Longhua District.
Police will offer a grace period before imposing a 300-yuan (US$47.61) fine for violators starting from March 1.
It is the second carpooling lane established in Shenzhen since the one on Binhai Boulevard, a trunk road linking Nanshan and Futian districts, opened in 2014.
Meilin Checkpoint, located at the south end of Meiguan Expressway, is now the only way for vehicles from Longhua and Bantian to enter Futian and Luohu.
The road at Meilin Checkpoint is often congested for 2.5 to three hours or 3.8 kilometers during morning rush hours. The section of Meiguan Expressway between Meiban Boulevard and Nanping Expressway is also often overcrowded with vehicles, the average speed slowing to 21.3 kilometers per hour. During the rush hours, the speed dropped to 14.1 kilometers per hour.
A survey conducted by Shenzhen traffic police showed that 6 to 21 percent of vehicles carried at least two people during rush hours on Meiguan Expressway and 70 percent of drivers drive alone without passengers.
The city's first HOV lane on Binhai Boulevard proved effective at relieving congestion since it was introduced in 2014. The 9.9-kilometer HOV lane starts from Houhaibin Flyover and ends at Chegongmiao Flyover on Binhai Boulevard.
After the rule took effect, the number of vehicles carrying single drivers dropped from 74 percent to 58 percent, indicating 1,060 more people were carried in an hour. The average speed of vehicles on Binhai Boulevard also increased from the original 39.7 kilometers per hour to 40.5 kilometers per hour.
Since HOV lanes were first introduced in the United States in the late 1960s, they have been adopted by many countries, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but are rare in China.
Shenzhen has 3.2 million vehicles. Vehicles have become the largest contributor of pollutants, responsible for 70 percent of the city's air pollution, according to the city government.
To tackle rising congestion and pollution problems, the city enacted a system for restricting the purchase of vehicles in late 2014, requiring prospective buyers to acquire new car license plates by lottery or auction.