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You Think Your Commute is Bad? None are Worse than Those in Beijing

Posted: 01/28/2015 8:53 am

traffic jamBeijing’s mayor recently said that addressing overpopulation is his city’s top priority. Perhaps, then, the mayor could turn away prospective Beijingers by informing them the capital has been named as having the worst commute in China.

A Baidu database called “My 2014 Work Commute” compiled the answers of over three million users to discover Beijing topped the list for longest commute in terms of both time and distance. The average Beijing commute lasts 52 minutes and is 19.2 kilometers long, more than three times that of the average commute of 50th place Shantou.

READ: Surprised? Beijing Crowned Most Congested City In China

Other first-tier cities rounded out the top names on the list. The average commute in Shanghai is 51 minutes and 18.8 kilometers long, putting it second. However, Shanghai also has the distinction of being the city with the most number of commuters who live outside of its territory, as many come from Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Zhoushan.

Guangzhou is another first-tier city near the top of the list of long commutes, averaging a time of 46 minutes and a distance of 15.2 kilometers. Just like Shanghai, Guangzhou has many commuters from Foshan and Dongguan.

So what does Beijing have to distinguish its commute from other cities? As the database shows, Beijing is home to some of the worst commutes in the country.

Commuters are trekking in to Beijing from Tongzhou, Changping, and Yanjiao from Hebei, a distance of over 50 kilometers. This also makes the commute from Tongzhou and Yanjiao to Guomao (CBD), Chaoyang District as the most congested route in the country.

How does your commute compare? The average commute in China is 9.2 kilometers and takes 28 minutes to complete.


Photo: qiqiang

  • mfw13

    The primary cause of long commutes in Beijing is the the complete absence of traffic cops, which leads to horrible driving habits and logjams at intersections. During evening rush hour, for example, my 4km bus commute (I walk during spring/summer/fall, but usually take the bus in the winter), often takes 25-30 minutes, whereas it should take about 10 minutes.


    #1 – because drivers cut off the bus when changing lanes, causing the bus to slow and/or stop
    #2 – because cars “block the box” at intersections (as in the picture accompanying this article)
    #3 – because pedestrians/bicyclists/scooters are over-aggressive when crossing intersections, thus blocking traffic lanes

    All problems which could be solved by having traffic cops at every intersection….


      so….its not a traffic problem…its a “Chinese” problem

      • mfw13

        No…..people behave similarly in many developing nations….China isn’t any better or worse in that respect than India, Brazil, Indonesia, , Vietnam, etc.

        I think its primarily a product of the lack of concept of the “public good”, since everyone, especially in China, is primarily focused on what’s best for themselves. So cutting off a bus filled with 100 people so that you can make the light and get where you’re going a little faster, while the bus has to slow down and then wait 3-4 minutes for the next green light…it simply doesn’t enter people’s consciousness.

        Same thing with “blocking the box”… never occurs to most drivers that if they get stuck in the middle of the intersection when the light changes, it’s going to block traffic in the other direction and inconvenience many other people. A few weeks ago, the bus I was on got caught in gridlock so bad that it didn’t move an inch for close to 20 minutes, because other cars were blocking the box at the next intersection and nobody could move.

        And the shame is that most of this could be avoided if the government focused a little less on security and more on quality of life by having traffic police at every major intersection to make sure traffic flows smoothly. Instead you get cars full of bored police assigned to prevent “assemblies” playing games on their mobile phones instead of doing something useful.

  • Zen my Ass

    Is there any good reason to move to Beijing?

    • mfw13

      Great food & great culture…..

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