China will give priorities to the development of the urban public transportation system in the next five years.
Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing made the remarks at the National Urban Public Transportation Conference that opened in Beijing Wednesday.
Qiu said foreign experiences have proved that giving priorities to the urban public transport development will not only help ease the urban traffic jams, but also improve the urban living environment and realize sustained development in cities.
Qiu said, as an important urban infrastructure serving most people, the urban public transportation system includes public buses, electric buses, subways, taxis, ferries and other public transport vehicles.
The ministry has set an initial five-year goal for developing urban public transport.
In the next five years, all local governments will build more public transportation infrastructures and special public transport roadways in the urban areas to ensure public vehicles run on designated roadways or have preference over certain roadways.
At that time, the average speed of the national public transportation system is expected to reach 20 kilometers an hour, and over 90 percent of public vehicles will run on time.
Currently in China's capital Beijing, the average speed of urban buses is lower than 10 kilometers an hour due to the heavy traffic jams caused by the surging number of private cars.
To solve the problem, Beijing is making its future urban transport development program. According to the program, the city will build some parking lots around the urban areas, which will help those private car owners change to take public buses to their work places in downtown areas.
Beijing will build 16 kilometers of new special roadways for public buses this year, and by 2010, 75 percent of Beijing's major roadways and some expressways will open special public traffic roadways, with the total length increasing from the current 93 kilometers to over 300 kilometers.
In the coming five years, all China's super-big cities like Beijing are expected to increase the proportion of their urban public transport to 30 percent of the total, while the proportion in other cities is expected to exceed 20 percent.
Qiu said the Chinese government will also increase investment in urban transport stations construction and other traffic infrastructure making the annual total investment reach about three-to-five percent of the national urban GDP.
Qiu said China will also speed up reform of the urban public transport enterprises, inviting domestic and foreign investors to join the franchised operation of urban public traffic.
Along with the development of urban transport, Qiu called for all local governments to take ways to develop rural public transport systems. By extending the urban public transport service to the rural areas, more rural people will share the same transport service with urban dwellers, Qiu noted.
(Xinhua News Agency May 20, 2004)