Beijing looks to improve traffic

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An urban planning official in Beijing said the city intends to introduce measures to manage the number of automobiles on the streets of the capital to help ease mind-numbing traffic jams.

Traffic jam in Beijing on September 21, 2010. [File photo]

 Traffic jam in Beijing on September 21, 2010. [File photo]

Liu Yumin, a deputy director at Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, said Wednesday that relevant departments in the capital are studying ways to improve the city's traffic, including controlling the number of automobiles, the Beijing Times reported Thursday.

However, Liu did not disclose any details about what's on the table.

Beijing has earlier emphasized that it would not restrict people from owning a car.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform refuted rumors in 2008 that authorities would implement measures to make it harder for people to buy private cars.

Ke Yan, a Volkswagen salesman in Beijing, told the Global Times Thursday that he was worried that drastic measures would harm sales.

Wei Dong, 27, told the Global Times that her family owns a car and that if the cost of driving it increases, they would not use it as often.

"I don't know why the country's measures are always targeting ordinary people. Life for us is not easy now," Wei said.

Traffic jams have been a growing problem around the city due to the increasing number of automobiles.

Oriental Outlook, a magazine published by the Xinhua News Agency, reported last month that the number of automobiles in Beijing reached 4.5 million.

Guo Tingjie, a councilor with the State Council, previously told Beijing Daily that relatively low prices for cars were the main reason so many have abandoned their bicycles or motorcycles for Hondas and luxury vehicles.

Some Internet users have speculated that Beijing will copy Shanghai's policy of auctioning plate numbers, which has been a policy there since 1994.

The cost of a plate is about 40,000 yuan ($6,000) on average, said in September.

However, experts said those kinds of measures would not reduce the number of automobiles on the city's streets.

"The government should take measures to reduce the number of service cars and environmentally unfriendly cars and most importantly, improve public transportation to attract people," Zhang Zhuting, a professor at Beijing-based Transport Management Institute, told the Global Times.

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