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Beijing to Expand Public Transport for Games
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Public transportation will have priority in traffic to ease congestion during the Summer Olympics, an officer said at a news conference on April 18.



Passengers board a bus during rush hour, at a bus stop, in Beijing April 18, 2007. Beijing is hoping a 100 billion yuan (US$13 billion) investment in public transport will be enough to keep the traffic flowing at next year's Olympic Games, an official said on April 18.


"This year, Beijing is projected to open 43 new roads, adjust current bus routes, and keep bus fares low to facilitate the movement of people during rush hour", explained Liu Xiaoming of the city's transportation committee.


He continued to say so far 10,350,000 traffic cards have been issued, and 13 million people use public transportation everyday. This is an increase of 10 percent since 2004 when reforms in public transit were made.


"We are also considering Olympic-exclusive bus lanes, strict parking restrictions around Olympic venues and government vehicles taken off the roads," added Liu.


"We plan to reduce traffic congestion by 20 to 30 percent during the Games, which means keeping 1 million cars off the road to ensure a good traffic flow."


But he said that the committee has yet to create a plan to restrict car use or impose congestion charges similar to measures used in central London, despite more than 1,000 new vehicles hitting the roads of Beijing everyday.


And people who are working for the Games, including volunteers, ticket holders, and staff can take public transportation for free.


Liu said Beijing has already spent 100 billion yuan (US$13 billion) on the city's transportation system since 2003. And from this year onwards, money pouring into transit will increase an estimated 10 percent annually in next two years, in hopes of relieving traffic jams especially for next year's Olympic Games.


The committee also explained more transportation hubs, exchanges centers and stations will be built, and extra bus lanes in Beijing will increase up to 250 kilometers.


(China Daily April 20, 2007)

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