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New traffic restriction takes effect in Beijing
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A new traffic restriction went into effect in the Chinese capital Saturday, which is expected to help sustain the hard-won smooth traffic and good air quality during the Olympic Games.

Under the new traffic restriction, 70 percent of government vehicles, as well as all corporate and private cars, will take turns off the roads one out of the five weekdays as of Oct. 11, according to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

Cars whose number plates end with 1 or 6 will be taken off roads on Monday, while those ending with 2 or 7 will be banned on Tuesday, 3 or 8 on Wednesday, 4 or 9 on Thursday and 5 or 0 on Friday. The ban does not apply on weekends.

The ban will be applicable within the Fifth Ring Road inclusive, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for private cars and round the clock for government and corporate vehicles.

Violators will be fined 100 yuan (US$14.7).

The new restriction will be implemented on a trial basis for six months until April 10, but does not apply to police wagons, ambulances, fire engines, buses, taxies and other public service vehicles.

As of Oct. 1, 30 percent of government vehicles have been sealed off.

The new traffic restriction is expected to take some 800,000 cars off the road everyday, according to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

"It's expected to reduce Beijing's average road traffic flow by 6.5 percent and speed up traffic within the Fifth Ring by 8 percent at least," Wang Zhaorong, a senior official with the committee, has said.

Because it is weekend on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12, so the new restriction will actually be applied on Oct. 13.

During the first week, traffic police will only give oral warnings to the violators but not fine them, according to the committee. Traffic authorities will also change the "no car day" based on the last number of license plates every month.

"We will boost public transport service after the new restriction is implemented, such as prolonging operation hours of buses and subway trains and increasing their number," said Zhou Zhengyu, deputy head of the committee.

The latest government statistics show that Beijing has about 3.5 million vehicles. In addition, about 1,200 new vehicles take on the road everyday.

During the Olympics and Paralympics, Beijing imposed a two-month ban on vehicles on alternate days, which took nearly 2 million cars off the roads. Traffic flow within the Fifth Ring was reduced by an average 21.2 percent and the average speed at rush hours increased by 25.8 percent to 30.2 km per hour, according to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

The Olympic traffic ban helped reduce almost 120,000 tons of pollutants emitted by vehicle, or about 63 percent of the total vehicular pollutant emissions before the ban.

The city returned to its normal congestion after the ban was lifted on Sept. 21.

(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2008)

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