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In my paper, I will focus on the financing, constituencies, and outcomes/ramifications of Beijings metro network. Beijing added 235 miles of subway lines between 2007 and 2014,

a length greater than the entire subway system in the New York City. Today the city boasts a

total of 327 miles of subway lines, second only to Shanghai (340 miles) and far ahead of most global cities in the West, such as Paris, London, Tokyo etc. The breakneck speed of subway construction in Beijing is very typical among Chinese citiesin fact, dozens of large cities in the country have made grand declarations to build their own subway networks, even though many of these cities can be better off with lowcost solutions, such as lightrails and BRTs. Subway has become a signifier of modernization and progress and it can give a major boost for local officials to demonstrate their achievements, and get promoted to higherranking posts.

First, if one looks at the financing, metro financing in Chinese cities is solely provided by the local city governments and largely dependent on revenues from land leasing. As the municipal governments own urban land, they have been leasing out land to private investors to earn revenuesbetween 30% and 70% of municipal revenues come from land leasing across the country. Only since last year in 2014, the Beijing metro authority has

been allowed to issue bonds to raise funds. The dependency on land sales is unsustainable,

and without alternative funding, the rapid subway construction boom is likely to slow down in the coming years.
Second, there is a large power imbalance among the constituenciesthe local government, the planners and technicians in charge of construction, and the larger publiccivil society groups and residents. When it comes to subway construction, there has not been a case that residents whose dwellings happen to be on the proposed routes can negotiate with the local state apparatus to better protect their rights (to stay, in this case). This is especially apparent in Beijing, the national capital, where the city government is known for being intolerant when it comes to urban renewal and mega project construction.
Third, I will discuss the ramifications of the massive expansion of Beijings subway system, in regards to uneven development and mobility in the metropolitan region. The newly added 235 miles of subway in the last 7 years have completely changed the geography and mobility patterns in the capital region. For example, it has created new hubs, around major transit stops, and has led to hikes of property values along the new subway stops. But for

those areas that are “off the (metro) grid, not connected by the new subway network, some of the places have become clearly marginalized because of the lack of accessibility. Thus, the case of Beijing metro is a classical example of splintering urbanism, and it has created new centers and margins.
In terms of mobility, with a daily ridership of more than 8 million passengers, there is no doubt that Beijings subway system has provided the much needed infrastructure to move people around in an urban region of close to 20 million. But the citys congestion has not improved much with the extended subway lines. The crushing rush hour traffic, both under and above the ground, has become a permanent feature of the daily life in the capital. For the endemic congestion in the city, only part of the solution is in the provision of public transit, and the other part has to be sought in the housing sector. Beijing is a city with extreme forms of inequality in the housing sector. The skyrocketing housing prices have pushed the majority of the middle class and lowincome groups to the urban edge, but most of the jobs remain at the city center. The mismatch between employment and residence is one of the root causes of Beijings chronic congestion, which cannot be solved by simply adding more miles of subway lines.
Overall, it is ironic that Beijing has one of the most expensive and developed metro systems and yet it is one of the most congested cities in the world. Beijings metro is primarily a state instrument to promote property development on the periphery, rather than a policy

remedy to enhance mobility.
Xuefei Ren

Global Urban Studies, Michigan State University

Figure 1. Beijings subway map of 2001, 2007, 2015


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