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Traffic rule driving rapid improvement in Beijing
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The alternating odd-even license plate restriction on private cars introduced in Beijing from July 20 has effectively reduced traffic, an official said yesterday.

Traffic congestion on major avenues has declined by 21 percent, while average traveling speeds have increased by about 27 percent, deputy director of the Beijing municipal committee of communications Li Jianguo told a press conference.

The measure, which will be repealed from Sept 20, targeted Beiijng's 3.3 million drivers and was intended to improve traffic flow and air quality.

Beijing municipal bureau of environmental protection deputy director Du Shaozhong said last week levels of major pollutants from vehicles, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter, have dropped by 20 percent over last year.

Ministry of Transport efforts, such as ordering shipping vehicles that would pass through Beijing en route to other cities to circumnavigate the capital and requiring long-distance busses to pass exhaust-level tests since July 1, contributed to this. Authorities have said the measures would not impact Beijingers' daily lives or commodity prices.

Transport authorities have given more than 4,000 trucks approval to transport goods into Beijing during the Olympics, Ministry of Transport spokesman He Jianzhong said.

In addition, exemptions have been made for trucks carrying agricultural and live aquatic products, he said.

"So transportation will not cause commodity price hikes during the Games," he said.

In another development, the ministry, which is also responsible for maritime transportation, has sent 62 vessels to the waters near Shandong province's Qingdao port.

"Maritime authorities will carry out security inspections of every ship and every person going in and out of Qingdao port," he said. Vessels will be inspected to prevent collisions and pollution.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency, August 7, 2008)

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