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City's public transport system carried daily average of 20.6m people in 2012
Some 44 percent of people in Beijing rely on public transit to get around the capital, the highest percentage of any city nationwide, according to figures released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport.
The city's public transport system carried a daily average of 20.6 million passengers in 2012, said Sun Wenjian, spokesman for the commission, helped by hefty ongoing investment.
As efforts continue to reduce traffic congestion on the city's streets and ring roads, Sun also revealed that the percentage of saloon car trips showed a decrease for a second year in a row.
The commission's report highlighted that the city's subway system also continues to expand, with more lines expected to open in coming years to further ease Beijing traffic congestion.
The subway system now has 442 kilometers of lines, making it the longest in China, after officials opened Line 6 and extensions to Lines 8, 9 and 10 on Sunday, extending the network to 261 stations and 36 transit stops.
The trains on the new Line 6 are not only more comfortable, but also longer than older ones and are capable of taking more passengers, said Wu Wenjie, deputy director of the Line 6 project department at the China Railway Tunnel Group.
The line's new eight-carriage trains can carry up to 2,000 passengers, and it is hoped the larger capacity will have a significant effect on reducing traffic congestion on the streets above, he said.
When two more stations are completed on Line 10 in mid-2013, that route will become the second subway loop line in the city and the longest line.
According to Sun, the Beijing Municipal Transportation Operations Coordination Center has been playing an essential role in providing safe and free-flowing traffic conditions, especially during peak seasons and rush hours.
He said there were no long traffic jams or major congestion during the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival.
During September, traditionally the busiest month on Beijing's roads, particular efforts were made to ease congestion.
In addition to activities aimed at getting citizens out of their cars and onto public transport, the city has extended the service times of 11 bus routes while shortening the departure intervals of subways and buses.
A new intelligent transportation information service now provides the latest data on 2,080 bus routes, 15 subway routes and more than 3,000 overpasses across the capital's main urban areas.
Motorists and pedestrians can download a free application software onto their phone to keep up-to-date.
During the year, according to the commission report, the capital also provided a first batch of 2,000 bicycles to residents in 63 locations with high traffic flow in the city, including Chaoyangmen and Sanlitun, in June, aimed at providing a green and low-carbon transport alternative that will help ease pressure on the road.
It is expected that 50,000 bikes will be put into operation in some 1,000 key locations by 2015. The bikes are free to use for the first hour and then cost just 1 yuan (16 US cents) per hour. The maximum cost for renting a bike for a day is 10 yuan, and residents can rent one for up to three days.
Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that if all car users gave up their cars in favor of a bike, traffic congestion and air quality in the city would be vastly improved.
"Automobiles are a major source of pollution, especially PM 2.5 pollution (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns) in the capital," said Ma.
"To end the tyranny of automobiles in urban areas would not only clear the road but refresh the air as well."
(China Daily 01/01/2013 page2)