Beijing to limit vehicle use before the Games


BEIJING: Beijing will introduce odd-even traffic restrictions for two months from July 20 to help ease congestion and reduce pollution during the Olympics and Paralympics, the city government said.

Beijing, which hosts the Olympics from Aug. 8-24 and Paralympics from Sept. 6-17, is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, with 3.5mil vehicles on the road, rapidly becoming one of the most congested.

“From July 20 to September 20, if the last number of your registration is odd, you can only drive on odd dates,” read a regulation posted on the city's official website (Beijing.gov.cn), adding the same would apply to even-number cars on even days.

Those affected by the ban would be compensated by not having to pay road or vehicle taxes for three months, a spokesman for the transport department, Zhou Zhengyu, was quoted as saying.

Only 70% of government-owned cars, which make up almost a third of vehicles in the city, will be included in the scheme.

Security, emergency services, buses, taxis, coaches and sanitation vehicles as well as Beijing organising committee and diplomatic cars will also be exempt.

The public transport network, boosted by three new subway lines, will take the strain.

“Beijing's public transportation system will have an increased capacity to take 4.5 million extra passengers a day by the time the Games begin,” Liu Xiaoming, head of Beijing's transport department, told Xinhua.

Pollution is a major concern for many athletes ahead of the Games and the International Olympic Committee has said it may reschedule endurance events to prevent a potential health risk.

City authorities ran a test of the ban last August and, although the impact on air quality was not immediately noticeable to residents, declared themselves satisfied with the results. – Reuters       

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