The city's government is expected to roll out more measures to ease traffic jams. Wang Jing / China Daily
The local government's recent move to spend billions of yuan this year to help ease Beijing's traffic congestion is sorely needed, according to a senior transportation researcher.
"The authorities said this year's target is to stop traffic congestion from getting worse. But it is hard, since the number of cars on Beijing's roads is surging," said Guo Jifu, director of the government-funded Beijing Transportation Research Center.
The 550,000 new vehicles added to the capital's roads bring the total to 4.2 million and traffic conditions may continue deteriorating to the chaotic point they were at in 2007, before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Guo told METRO.
Beijing's traffic authorities said on Tuesday that they will set up a multi-billion-yuan fund to build more underground circuit roads in densely populated areas and expand major arteries above ground.
"The municipal government has found it necessary to open this special fund to deal with traffic congestion in the capital. More details will be released as plans for the fund progress," Wang Zhaorong, a senior official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, said at a press conference.
Zhongguancun, Beijing's information technology hub, has had an underground circuit road for more than two years.
The circuit allows as many as 5,000 vehicles to loop around the heavily populated area at the same time.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport said the new fund will be used for projects similar to the Zhongguancun circuit.
This year's major traffic projects also include revamping major ring roads and bus terminals and extending Beijing's subway network, officials said.
The city will also create more taxi stops and bike rental stations after the authorities reallocate space under hundreds of overpasses citywide.
Beijing's economic planning authority will also continue to change parking fees in populated areas in Beijing to help ease congestion.
The municipal government announced last Friday it will extend restrictions launched after the Beijing Olympics by two more years, until April 2012.
The restrictions, which were due to end April 9, ban Beijing's 5.8 million drivers from driving one workday each week based on the last digit of their car license plate.
The restrictions keep roughly 20 percent of the city's cars off the roads each day and reduce Beijing's traffic congestion by more than 7 percent, said the authorities.
(China Daily 04/07/2010)