Nearly half the vehicles in Beijing will be ordered off the
roads during the "Good Luck Beijing" sports events to test the
city's air quality. Test results will be used to revise the
Olympic Air Quality Guarantee Scheme.
In an interview with the Beijing News on August 9, Ms.
Tang Xiaoyan, an expert invited for the drafting of this scheme,
member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, professor at Peking
University, and scientific advisor for the Beijing municipal
government, talked about this air quality test and traffic
restrictions during the Olympic test events.
The Beijing News (BN): Beijing has
ordered some vehicles off the roads to test the air quality. How
important is air quality to the Olympics?
Tang Xiaoyan (Tang): Since 1998, Beijing has
taken measures to control air pollution, and air quality has
consequently improved. For next year's Olympics, air quality is of
the utmost importance to the athletes. The key issue is to prevent
high concentrations of air pollutants.
BN: In which aspects will air pollutants be
Tang: Take inhalable particles for example.
This kind of pollutant contains many small particles which cause
atmospheric visibility to decline. The particles consist of even
smaller particulates, their size ranging from nano to micrometer.
They can enter into the human body very easily, and if they get
into the respiratory tract, or even the lungs, respiration might be
affected. So air quality must be guaranteed for the sake of the
BN: Has air quality been taken into
consideration in Beijing's bid for the Olympics?
Tang: In its bid for the Olympics, Beijing promised to keep air
quality in line with national standards and try to meet WHO
Last year, the Beijing municipal government invited a group of
experts to carry out research on air quality during the Olympics.
They have studied the desirable standards, goals, as well as
measures to be taken. An Olympic Air Quality Guarantee Scheme has
been submitted to the municipal government, covering the city
itself as well as its surrounding areas.
BN: What pollution controls are covered in the
Tang: It includes controls on coal burning,
industrial emissions, vehicle emissions, and raised dust.
Optimistic for Traffic Drill
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
Vehicles Ordered off Road for
Beijing yesterday announced a drill to test the effectiveness of
the Olympic host city's efforts to improve air quality and ease
From August 17 to 20, about 1.3 million vehicles - nearly half
of the total 3 million in the city - will be ordered off the roads
as part of pre-Olympic tests, according to the capital city's
environmental and traffic authorities.
On August 17 and 19 (Friday and Sunday), only vehicles with the
license plate number ending with the odd numeral will be allowed on
On August 18 and August 20 (Saturday and Monday), it's plates
ending with an even number.
The rule applies to Beijing-registered vehicles as well as those
from outside the city.
Du Shaozhong, spokesman for the Beijing Environmental Protection
Bureau, said air quality will be monitored during the
"Let's see the correlation between air quality and the number of
running vehicles," he said.
"Data from the tests will be collected and analyzed to improve
air quality," Du said, adding vehicle emissions are a leading cause
of urban pollution.
In addition to the 27 air quality monitoring stations spread
across all the 18 districts and counties, three new stations and
two new mobile monitor vehicles will be put to use, he added.
(China.org.cn August 13, 2007)