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Public Transport Given Priority in Cities

Chinese Minister of Construction Wang Guangtao said Thursday that giving priority to the development of urban public transportation system will set the basis for a sustained development in the urban areas.


During the two-day National Urban Public Transportation Conference that ended Thursday in Beijing, Wang brought forward the ministry's five-year goal of first developing the urban public transportation system throughout Chinese cities.


Wang said the concept of giving priority to the development of the urban public transportation system indicated a scientific concept of urban development in China, which will help solve China's problems in energy and urban environment sectors.


Currently, 34 percent of the energy consumed in China relies on imports from overseas, and at the same time, the country is also facing a surging number of private cars which will produce more energy demand in the future.


With the process of urban development, noise and polluted air caused by a growing number of vehicles have become the main threat for urban environment, and 29 percent of Chinese cities have been loomed by polluted air.


To first develop the urban public transport system will not only save energy and reduce the demand for private vehicles among the public, but will also help release the pressure on urban environment, said Wang.


During the past two decades, China has witnessed fast progress in developing urban public transport facilities, with 93 percent of cities having a public transport network. The number of public buses shared by all Chinese cities has risen from 45,000 in 1985 to over 245,000 by late 2002, with a total of 38.8 billion people transported each year.


But despite the progress, acknowledged Wang, the development of China’s urban public transport system still fails to cope with the need of urban economic and social growth as well as the demand of the urban dwellers.


Wang required all local governments finish their new urban public transport system program no later than the next year, and speed up their establishment of expressways for public buses.


The minister also hoped all cities would take ways to develop their comprehensive public transport networks, covering different vehicles like public buses, electric buses, subways, taxis, ferries and other public transport vehicles.


According to the ministry's goal, all local governments are expected to build more public transportation infrastructures and special public transport roadways in the urban areas over the next five years, so as to ensure public vehicles run on designated roadways or have preference over certain roadways.


By then, the average speed of the national public transportation system is likely to reach 20 km an hour, and over 90 percent of public vehicles will run on time.


In the coming five years, Beijing and other major cities are expected to increase the proportion of their urban public transport to 30 percent of the total, while the proportion in other cities will possibly exceed 20 percent.


Meanwhile, the Chinese government will also input more in urban transport station construction and other traffic infrastructure construction, and speed up reform of the urban public transport enterprises, inviting domestic and foreign investors to join the franchised operation of urban public traffic.


(Xinhua News Agency May 21, 2004)

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