Beijing is confident it can reduce traffic by 20 to 30 percent during next year's Olympics, a senior official said yesterday.
Liu Xiaoming, deputy head of the Beijing municipal committee of communications, said that despite having a reputation for heavy traffic, it was the city's aim to ensure locals, visitors and competitors enjoyed a congestion-free Games.
He said authorities will continue to promote the use of public transport in a bid to keep the volume of traffic to a minimum.
Liu said that all competitors and their families, volunteers, employees and spectators will be provided with free public transport during the Games. A special bus network linking all Olympic venues and training centers would also be introduced to make getting to events as easy by bus as it would be by private vehicle.
"Beijing people are understanding and supportive, especially when the city is faced with an important mission like the Olympics," Liu said when asked if he thought people would be willing to leave their cars at home during the Games.
He said the city's officials had been encouraged by the 30-percent decrease in car usage during last November's China-Africa summit.
During the six days of meetings between Chinese and African leaders, 80 percent of government-owned vehicles were forced to stay off the road, while private car owners were also encouraged to drive less.
In the past three years, Beijing has spent 90 billion yuan (US$11.65 billion) on transport projects, and that will increase by 10 percent over the next three, Liu said. Some of the money will be used to add 86 km of new track to the existing subway network ahead of the Olympics.
Beijing is currently leading the country's car-buying boom. Last year, people in the capital bought 370,000 vehicles -more than half the total number of vehicles in Hong Kong - to take its total to 2.88 million.
(China Daily April 19, 2007)