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Beijing drivers compensated for traffic restrictions
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Starting today vehicle owners in Beijing will receive a partial refund of road maintenance fees to compensate for restrictions on car use in the capital imposed during and after the Beijing Olympics.

To reduce traffic jams and improve air quality during the Olympics, half of Beijing's 3.3 million private vehicles were taken off the road each day depending on whether their license plates ended in an odd or even number. The Olympic restrictions started on July 20 and were lifted in September.

Cars run on an overpass in Beijing, capital of China, on April 11, 2009. A series of vehicle restrictions will be carried out from April 11, 2009 to April 10, 2010 in an effort to ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. [Xinhua]

In November 2008, Beijing imposed a milder traffic restriction policy that bans private vehicles from the roads one day a week on a rotating basis according to license plate numbers. At the same time the traffic authority promised to compensate drivers with a partial refund of road maintenance charges.

The refunds start today and the majority of Beijing drivers who hold a Peony Card (used to settle fines for traffic offences etc.) should have received automatic refunds by April 30.

Those who do not have Peony Cards will have to apply for a refund in person at road maintenance fee collection centers, presenting originals and copies of their ID card and vehicle license documents.

A total of 1.5 billion yuan (about U$220 million) will be refunded by September 30 to owners of the capital's vehicles, of which 80 percent are private cars.

A fifth of Beijing's 3.6 million private vehicles and a third of official cars will continue to be barred from the roads every weekday following the Beijing municipal government's announcement of a one-year extension of traffic restrictions beginning on April 11.

(China.org.cn by Zhang Yunxing, April 16, 2009)

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