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Bus Upgrade in Time for Beijing Olympics

7,277 old buses will be replaced by new ones that meet higher environmental standards from now until 2008 in a bid to reach the goal of a "green Olympic Games", according to a news release by Bank of Beijing on Wednesday.


In a contract signed on Tuesday between Bank of Beijing and the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications, the bank will provide a loan of 4 billion yuan (US$493 million) to the Beijing Public Transport Group to help replace buses with excessive emission levels.


Yan Bingzhu, board chairman of Bank of Beijing, said the vehicles to be eliminated will be the following: diesel engine buses of Europe I or lower emission standards, worn-out buses and those that use either petrol or liquid petroleum gas.


The Europe I standard states that for the emission of a small vehicle with less than six seats and lighter than 2.5 tons in weight, the carbon monoxide content should not exceed 3.16 gram per kilometer, the hydrocarbon content should not exceed 1.13 gram per kilometer, the particulates for diesel-engine should not exceed 0.18 gram per kilometer, and the durability of the vehicle should be at least 50,000 kilometers.


Zheng Shusen, board chairman of the Beijing Public Transport Group, said 17,507 buses are now on the road, and by the end of this year, the group will have replaced 3,858 diesel-engine buses of Europe I or lower emission standards with new buses that meet the Europe III emission standard as the first step of the project.


The whole replacement project should be completed by 2008, in time for the Olympic Games.


Zheng said the new buses are more comfortable, convenient and modern, which will contribute to Beijing's image as an international metropolis.


All the buses will be equipped with electronic screens and speakers to announce stops along their routes. They will be designed to be lower from the ground level that older buses, as an added convenience to children and the physically disabled.


Beijing Vice Mayor Ji Lin said that there will be 5,000 natural gas-powered buses running in Beijing by 2008. The cooperation among the bank, the government and the enterprises set a good example for the infrastructure construction of the capital.


Ji said the government would continue to encourage the development of public transport and make it a priority in solving the city's traffic problems.


Despite the rapid growth of mass transit transport and private cars, buses are still the most popular mode of transport for Beijing residents. In 2004, it was estimated that Beijingers managed 4.36 billion person-rides.


(China Daily, China.org.cn December 1, 2005)


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