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Odd-even rule to reduce traffic by 70%
By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-06-21 16:41

More than 2.3 million cars, up to 70 percent of the total, could be removed from Beijing's roads during the Olympics, as a result of new measures, the local transport authority said on Friday.

In a bid to ease congestion and reduce emissions, between July 20 and Sept 20, Beijing's 3.3 million private car owners will be required to abide by an odd-and-even license plate rule, which allows them to drive into the city only on alternate days.

As compensation, road and vehicle taxes will be waived during the period, saving motorists a combined 1.3 billion yuan ($189 million), the authority said.

The rule will also apply to 70 percent of the city's 300,000 government vehicles, with exemptions made for public service vehicles, including buses and taxis, and diplomatic vehicles.

Zhou Zhengyu, deputy director of the Beijing transport committee, said: "The restrictions are a big challenge for the city. We will need the full cooperation of the public."

The Beijing traffic management bureau has not given details of what penalties will be faced by those who flout the rule. Those who broke a similar rule during a four-day trial for Olympic test events in August were fined 100 yuan.

The organizers of the Beijing Olympics said earlier that by reducing traffic in the capital, they will be able to keep their promise to the International Olympic Committee that all athletes will be able to travel from their accommodation to any venue within 30 minutes.

To further ease travel woes for athletes and officials, a 264-km network of Olympic traffic lanes will be open throughout the Games, they said.

The 15 million commuters will be served by more than 21,000 buses, fleets of taxis and the new subway network during the Games, the organizers said.

In addition, Zhou said that office hours and opening times for shopping malls will be staggered to help ease congestion.

As well as cutting traffic, the restrictions are part of a series of measures - including the closure of polluting plants and construction sites - to reduce air pollution in Beijing.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing municipal environmental protection administration, claimed the measures would reduce car emissions by 63 percent.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Transport said all trucks planning to pass through Beijing during the Olympics will be rerouted via expressways on the outskirts of the city.

A number of logistics companies in Beijing told China Daily that they expect to be the worst hit by the two-month restriction, but are working on ways to cope.

"We've replaced some vehicles, adjusted our routes and plan to run all our cars 24 hours a day to reduce the impact on our business," Li Ying, the communications manager with logistics firm DHL-Sinotrans, said.

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