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Bus Upgrade Coming for Olympics in Beijing

Beijing is going to replace 7,277 obsolete buses with new ones that meet higher environmental standards between now and 2008 in a bid to reach the goal of a "green Olympic Games," according to a news release by Bank of Beijing yesterday.


According to 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 emissions.


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


Zheng Shusen, board chairman of the Beijing Public Transport Group, said 17,507 buses are now on the road.


Zheng said that by the end of this year, the group will have replaced 3,858 diesel-engine buses of Europe I or lower emission standards as the first step of the project.


The whole replacement project will be completed by the 2008 Olympic Games.


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


All the buses will be equipped with electronic screens and speakers to announce the coming stops. The floors will be lowered, as a convenience to passengers, especially children and the handicapped getting on or off.


Liu Xiaoming, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications, said all the new buses will meet the Europe III emission standard.


Liu expected half of the city's buses will meet the standard by the end of this year.


Beijing Vice-Mayor Ji Lin said the co-operation 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.


He said as weather conditions in Beijing are unfavorable for pollutants to disperse for three months every year, the municipal government was considering taking tougher measures to improve air quality.


Ji pointed out that environmentally friendly vehicles represented the developing trend of Beijing's public transport.


He said Beijing would have 5,000 natural gas-powered buses running in 2008.


Despite the rapid growth of the fast-track transport and private cars, buses are still the most popular mode of transport for the Beijing residents. In 2004, 4.36 billion person-rides were reported.


(China Daily December 1, 2005)


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