(AFP) – Nov 5, 2007
BEIJING (AFP) — Olympic host city Beijing has ruled out any limits on the number of private cars allowed on the Chinese capital's notoriously congested and polluted streets, state media reported Tuesday.
A top transport official said Beijing, whose air pollution and traffic jams are key concerns of the International Olympic Committee, will not follow the lead of Shanghai, which restricts vehicle ownership, Xinhua news agency said.
"Instead, we will encourage citizens to use their cars more rationally and sparingly," said Liu Xiaoming, deputy head of Beijing's transportation committee.
Liu was quoted as saying the city would concentrate on promoting use of a revamped public transport system so that "car owners will willingly give up driving".
The city of 17 million opened a major new subway line last month and slashed fares to encourage ridership. A new light-rail line connecting downtown Beijing with the city's airport also is set to open before the August 2008 Olympics.
Shanghai, the nation's commercial hub, places limits on the number of license plates issued. Plates can be reauctioned for an average of about 5,000 dollars -- a huge sum for most Chinese.
Beijing had 3.08 million registered motor vehicles as of August, an average of one for every two families, Xinhua said, and the number of cars is expected to continue to soar as the city booms.
About 90 percent of Beijing's roads are currently operating at full capacity with little room for expansion, the report said, quoting city officials.
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