China "Stimulates" Economy By Suspending Road Tolls For Golden Week - Millions End Up Stuck In Traffic Jams

Tyler Durden's picture

This one is for the the no good Keynesian deed goes unpunished files. As part of its 8 day Golden Week celebration, China's central planners decided to do a good thing for the people and remove all tolls from expressways. That was the populist explanation. The fundamental one was that this act would somehow spur the economy. Alas, while the same people may have saved some transit money in the process, what they did not save was on transit times. As South China Morning Post reports, millions were promptly stuck in traffic jams as a result of the politburo's generosity. From SCMP: "A bid by authorities to stimulate the economy by suspending road tolls for the "golden week" holiday brought huge tailbacks across the mainland yesterday as almost 86 million travelers took to the roads. That's 13.3 per cent more than on the first day of the National Day holiday last year." And then the fun began.

"One traveller blogged that he could only move 200 metres in an hour on the Zhengzhou to Shijiazhuang expressway in Henan province. Others said the queue of cars on the Guangzhou to Shenzhen expressway was 40 kilometres long. All roads leading out of Guangdong were jammed, with cars moving at about a kilometre an hour in front of some toll gates. Provincial traffic-management authorities estimated traffic on expressways would increase by 40 to 80 per cent compared with the same period last year, the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported. The People's Daily reported dozens of accidents on 24 highways across the mainland, further aggravating the congestion."


From midnight on Saturday until midnight this Sunday - the duration of the combined holiday for yesterday's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day - passenger vehicles carrying up to seven people are exempt from paying tolls.


It's the first time in decades that the government has suspended the notoriously high tolls for a major public holiday, with the move coming as consumption falls amid slowing economic growth.


The warning signs were there even before the tolls were suspended. In Guangzhou, cars began lining up before midnight on Saturday, waiting for toll-free travel to begin. Traffic was backed up at major expressway toll gates before dawn. Long lines were appearing on all 17 Beijing expressways by 6am, dashing many travellers' hopes of making an early start to the holiday.


By the afternoon, internet users had made tens of thousands of microblog posts about the traffic jams.


"I set out at 5.30am and didn't approach the border between Guangdong and Hunan until 4.30pm," said Xiong Junhui , a Shenzhen resident, noting that the journey was roughly 400 kilometres.


Xiong and her husband were heading to Mang Mountain National Forest Park in Hunan, and expect the toll-free policy to save them between 300 yuan (HK$367) and 400 yuan on their journey. "It is worth waiting for a while on the road to enjoy the toll exemption," Xiong said. "But the traffic jam makes me so tired, and now I already want to go home."

So... no economic stimulus?

In short, Keynesian miracles 4ever! But don't worry, next year's Golden Week celebration and roat-toll suspension will have a different outcome.

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Long food carts on Chinese highways.  Have a feeling that (once again) humans will demonstrate that tey are not as smart as fucking yeast.

Hedge accordingly.


GetZeeGold's picture



It would have worked if they would have just opened up the toll roads and not charged any money.


otto skorzeny's picture

The thieves on the Illinois Toll Authority would rather give up their first born than surrender a penny to free tolls.

GetZeeGold's picture



I spent some time in Chicago.....I believe you.


bigdumbnugly's picture

and people still wonder about the origins of the chinese fire drill...

Dr. Richard Head's picture

You just helped me realize that coffee is supposed to be swallowed and not expelled through the nose.

As an aside, Krugman just blogged that these traffic jams should be GDP positive for China, with gas consumption and all.

otto skorzeny's picture

PK also said that everyone should throw a rock through the car window of the guy stuck next to them to "stimulate".

francis_sawyer's picture

Man who run in front of car become TIRED... Man who run behind car become EXHAUSTED

old naughty's picture

So this is 'one for the road' humor?

AssFire's picture

All these commuters dropped watches in toilet;

bound to have shitty time.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Krugman who stands on MSNBC high on pot.

fourchan's picture

worst drivers ever, parked is the best case senario.

MilleniumJane's picture

I had the pleasure of traveling through Chicago's tollroads about 10 years ago.  Couldn't believe the condition of those roads compared to the freeways where I live.  Now our state is considering converting as many bridges and freeways as they can into tollroads so they can raise more revenue.  Whenever I hear that bullshit, I think of Chicago.

XitSam's picture

Are the toll roads owned and operated by the state or a private company?

MeBizarro's picture

Pay for actual usage of something?  What a crazy concept.  If you are wary of privatization of roads and what kind of deal private funds will get, that is another matter but generally what has happened is that private money that has bought public roads in the US have taken a bath (e.g., Indiana Turnpike).  

MilleniumJane's picture

My point is that the roads in Chicago were shitty-potholes, big ruts, half-assed patch jobs, etc.  I have no idea how Illinois plays this but if it's like anything the government decides to "privatise," someone out there is getting major kickbacks at the expense of the public and their safety.  Did you read about Oak Ridge's security breach by the 82 year old nun and the subsequent safety violations that were found after investigation?  I am frustrated because it's always the question of which crooks do you want to hand your money to.  I don't trust either of the thieving bastards, but with the way things are going I am much more leery of privatisation than letting the government continue to handle things like infrastructure.  It's the devil you know vs. the one you don't.  

Slightly Insane's picture

You're comment understates the situation and criminality in Illinois.   I do beleive that they will be eating each other pretty soon.

zerozulu's picture

A bicycle country turning into a car country and a car country turning into bicycle country. Happening in my fuc***** lifetime.

holdbuysell's picture

South Korea does this and adds restrooms too. During the holidays the roads are quite similarly packed.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


South Korea does this and adds restrooms too.

You can't even see the roadsides of that highway. If they're driving on the roadsides, you can expect a substantial increase in accidents (and skidmarks).

Slightly Insane's picture

And due to the overwhelming number of "skidmarks" produced that day, they had a "run" on "laundry soap" the next day.

HeatMiser's picture

So basically its was just like a normal traffic day in Mass Hole Chusetts.

mkkby's picture

LawOfPhysics - apparently I'm the only one in my class who understood the "yeast experiment".  Let's have a few billion more fucking babies.  Good plan!

holdbuysell's picture

Any idiot understands the concept of 'the tragedy of the commons' ... Oh wait.

otto skorzeny's picture

WWIII WILL be fought over oil(dressed in the guise of terrorism)

DosZap's picture

And we think LA is Bad???.

purplefrog's picture

uh...unintended consequences?

gojam's picture

Yeh +1 , who'd of thunk it..............?

Chinese abandon law of unintended consequences only to find that everybody has decided to leave the city

Jason T's picture

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions don't you know.

.. so that's why gas is up!

old naughty's picture

If you can call stmulate more gasoline consumption to reduce the reserve that...yes.

swissaustrian's picture

Central planning creates unintended consequences

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I remember a few years ago, there was a particularly nasty intersection on a nice, new, fast road between Dong guan and Chang an.  When it opened, drivers were always ignoring the traffic laws and causing terrible accidents at the intersection.  So, the Chinese government closed the big, nice, new, fast, freeway for a few months, causing drivers to take the old, slow, road, as a punishment!  When they re-opened it, drivers no longer ignored the traffic laws at that intersection, and the accidents decreased significantly. 

I love how they farm the medians and roadsides in China. 

Apparently, they shuck corn in the roads, too...

What a fine example of a walkable boulevard.  Kunstler would be proud.

zerozulu's picture

We have corn,a lot. We have roads, a lot. Missing one ingredient. Wonder what?

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


I love how they farm the medians and roadsides in China.

It's some of their most productive soil.

Dr. No's picture

Crap.  They created a data point which supports higher toll fees reduces conjestion.

Matt's picture

Toll gates and traffic lights help break up traffic. Even if the traffic volume was the same with tolls, having steady traffic will cause more congestion:


fonzannoon's picture

cenrtral planning.

Oh regional Indian's picture

All that gasohol burning away in the Jams. Someone knows which side of their bread is buttered.

Here we know it well as a "third world burn extra gas in traffic that you cannot afford anyways" tactic.


Somewhere, a Krugwoman is having a wet-dream

yogibear's picture

More Chinese stuck idling just helps increase oil demand and world prices.

With the Fed's dollar trashing talk it won't be long until WTI oil is consistantly over $100/barrel.

Robslob's picture

In the good ole USA our "men in blue a.k.a. Police force" would take that opportunity to drive "ticket" revenue for expired inspection stickers!



LawsofPhysics's picture

You should run for your local county commission, damn fine idea.  This is exactly the shit that is coming.  Several of the counties I farm in began charging people for "run-off water" from any man-made structure.  very glad that we already had recovery cisterns in place already because we successfully demonstrated that we captured all of our run-off and did not have to pay.

It was based on the square footage of your structures and pavement etc.  Would have been a substantial tax.  When I tell people to "prepare" this is the kind of shit I am talking about.

Dr. No's picture

Or at least giving parking tickets for illegally parked on an expressway.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Obstructed traffic.  Bring out the police batons, plastic cuffs, and riot helmets.

No Euros please we're British's picture

Sorry, the UK beat them to it. Really. No stopping zone tickets from camera detected number plates of cars in rush hour jams. No one ever thought of that, would you believe?! And they had to go to Belgium to find the biggest beaurocratic idiots, just because we don't speak French.

kito's picture

these people should try the prospect expressway ramp to and fro brooklyn thats traffic.........

Catullus's picture

This is also why Starbucks doesn't work in China. Give away anything for free in China and you'll see people use it just because it's free. That's why a price is its own rationing device.

insanelysane's picture

The invasion of Japan will be delayed.

ebworthen's picture

Selling more oil with those traffic jams; maybe they are trying to help Iran out (?).

Dr. Engali's picture

Unintended consequences bitchez!