Beijing - The restriction on car use in the national capital will be extended for another two years starting April 11, as traffic jams are still one of the city's most serious problems, the municipal government announced on Friday.
The restriction, which will be extended until April 10, 2012, will continue to follow the pattern as before, under which Beijing's car owners are prohibited from driving one day each week based on the last digit of their license plates.
According to statistics from the Beijing Transportation Research Center, until the end of last year, the streets of Beijing, with a population of 17.55 million, were packed with more than 4 million vehicles.
"The rapid increase in the number of vehicles and the high frequency of car use have made Beijing's traffic situation really intense," said Zhou Zhengyu, vice-secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government.
"Therefore, we have to continue to take measures to ease jams."
Zhou told reporters at a press conference that the restriction, which has been in place for a year, has kept more than 800,000 cars, or a fifth of the city's 4.2 million cars, off the roads.
The Beijing Transportation Research Center said in an annual report published in January that due to the traffic restrictions, congestion last year was down 7.4 percent from 2008.
Beside the car ban, the government also encourages companies to set up virtual offices so that their employees do not have to join the traffic every day.
According to a survey done by a third-party company, Horizon Research Consultancy Group, more than 90 percent of the 2,180 respondents agree to extend the restriction.
"I support the decision to continue the restriction," said Hao Xuejin, a professor from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture. "Everybody can see that the traffic is really bad in Beijing, and it would be worse without the restriction."
Hao said he has gotten used to the restriction now.
"Besides, I think it's good for my health and the environment not to drive one day every week."