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Lines under construction

The city will open two more subway lines this year in addition to the high-speed line to Daxing. The other new lines-the eastern extension of line 7 and the southern extension of the Batong line-will connect downtown Beijing to the Universal Studios Theme Park under construction in Tongzhou district.

Meanwhile, line 3 and line 19 are under construction and the government plans to start work on the western part of line 11 this year.

The capital's subway network will be 699.3 km long by the end of this year, 62.5 km, or 9.8 percent, more than at the end of last year.

However, experts are not very optimistic that subways are the answer to Beijing's traffic congestion problem.

Yang Liya said that even though the city's subway network has grown in recent years, the amount of land available for roads is limited and accounts for a small proportion of overall land use.

"The number and length of the roads still don't meet demand," she said.

Mao, from Beijing Jiaotong University, said the whole public transportation system needs to be improved to encourage car drivers to use buses or subway lines.

The reason the growing subway network has had little effect on traffic congestion is that it has mainly encouraged people to switch from buses to trains.

"Fewer people have been using local buses in Beijing in the past three years because the mature and convenient subway system has attracted passengers from buses to subways," he said. "Thus, the subways in Beijing are always full of people while the roads are still full of cars."

Only when private car drivers chose to use the subway or buses would congestion be eased, Mao said, adding this meant the bus system needed to improve its punctuality and make transfers more convenient-and that would require a lot of effort.

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