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Nearly half of Beijingers use public transit during Olympics
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Beijing will continue to improve its public transport service by expanding transport networks while keeping fares low, a Beijing official said on Wednesday.

These measures are expected to encourage more Beijing residents to use public transport, which can help reduce road congestion and car emissions, said Zhou Zhengyu, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

Beijing plans to build 11 more subway lines to create an underground transport network of 561 kilometers by 2015, compared with eight lines of 200 km at present, Zhou said.

"Meanwhile, the proportion of the usage of public transport will be raised to 45 percent from 35 percent at present. That's our major goal," Zhou said at a media briefing on the city's transport system during the ongoing Olympic Games.

Beijing has actually achieved this goal since the opening of the Games on Aug. 8, thanks to policies that encouraged the use of public transport, he said.

The government ordered about two-thirds of Beijing's 3.3 million cars off the roads on alternate days under an even-odd license plate system that is in effect from July 20 to Sept. 20, during the Olympics and the following Paralympics.

Many government cars have also been taken out of service. However, more buses, taxis and Olympic vehicles were put on the roads.

Zhou said the measures, although they inconvenienced many commuters who rely on private cars, paid off as more citizens opted for mass transit.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008)

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