From August 17 to 20, about 1.3 million vehicles – nearly half
of the total 3 million in Beijing – will be banned from roads as
part of pre-Olympic tests.
During the drill, vehicles with license plates ending in an odd
number will be allowed on the roads on August 17 and 19, and plates
ending in an even number permitted on August 18 and 20.
Most citizens say they would support the
20 metro and bus riders and 20 private car drivers were
interviewed by the Beijing News last Thursday, and all
said the four-day-drill would not seriously impede their
Most of those who typically take public transport are not car
owners. They believe that Beijing should take actions to cut down
on number of private cars out on the streets. "I would applaud the
decision even if it were for the whole year," said Ms. Liao, who
lives in the Fangzhuang area.
Two private car drivers echoed her view: "Beijing's traffic
congestion will never be eased if people feel they must drive
everywhere. The city would be better off with some vehicles
Another 10 drivers said they would manage to do without a car
for the drill. They believe the small sacrifice would be worthwhile
for the Olympic Games.
All of the 40, however, shared a common concern: Is the city's
public transport system capable of handling an extra million
Will public transport crush under pressure?
1.3 million vehicles kept away from the roads would add massive
pressure to the public transport system, and many fear a breakdown
during rush hours.
An official from the Beijing Municipal Committee of
Communication noted that the government would take the necessary
actions to increase transport capacity in downtown and the suburbs,
large communities in particular.
Moreover, over 95 percent of the 66,000 taxis in the capital
would be available for passengers from August 17 to 20, with some
stationed at major stadiums for contingencies. Rush hour services
of metro systems will be extended to three hours, 6:30 AM to 9:30
AM, from the usual two hours, 7 AM to 9 AM.
In addition, intervals between trains of Metro Line 1 and Line 2
will be shortened during non-peak times, and ten backup trains will
Will rule-violators be held responsible?
Many drivers are concerned about possible violations of the
rules, and question what would be done about cars that sneak onto
the roads. To further complicate the matter, an extra 20 percent of
government vehicles would be included in the drill. Could traffic
control authorities find a way to monitor all these cars?
It might be comforting to know that Beijing is no stranger to
tightened traffic controls. During the China-Africa Cooperation
Forum in November 2006, nearly 500,000 non-private vehicles were
barred from streets.
On first day of the forum, 43 forbidden automobiles took to the
roads, all detected by cameras or stopped by police. The Municipal
Traffic Safety Committee immediately issued warnings and conducted
The person in charge of the Beijing Traffic Administration
Bureau explained that the Automatic Traffic-Accident-Monitoring
System played a big role. All information about the banned
vehicles, such as license plate numbers, was collected in an
Automatic Information Identification System. The system is equipped
with electronic eyes, detectors and cameras. As soon as a car hit
the road against the rules, it would be instantly caught by the
(China.org.cn by Zou Di, August 13, 2007)