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Jammed Beijing announces number of gov't vehicles for first time

04-02-2011 15:20 BJT

BEIJING, April 2 (Xinhua) -- China's capital has for the first time announced the number of government vehicles that have long been blamed by public as a cause of massive traffic jams in the city.

By the end of last year, the number of vehicles owned by different central and municipal government departments stood at 62,026, of which 20,288 belonged to municipal government, the Beijing Municipal Finance Bureau announced in its official website late Friday.

Also Friday, Beijing started charging higher parking fees in non-residential areas in a bid to reduce the number of cars on the city's overcrowded roads.

Beijing is the first Chinese city to announce the number of government vehicles.

A local lawyer Ye Xiaojing submitted an application to authorities of public security, transport and finance late last year, asking them to make public the number of government-use vehicles.

The finance bureau had promised to give the lawyer a figure in March after its staff completed the compilation of the actual budget for 2010.

Beijing had registered more than 4.8 million motor vehicles by the end of last year, with 800,000 new ones purchased in 2010. A private car annually travels 15,000 km a year, more than twice the figure in Tokyo. [ The growth in the number of automobiles has become a major cause of Beijing's traffic congestion, said Guo Jifu, director of the Beijing Transport Research Center.

In 2004, Beijing began battling traffic congestion by improving the city's infrastructure and public transport. However, the efforts were met by a surge in the number of vehicles.

At the end of 2010, the municipal government rolled out a vehicle purchase limit that was considered the toughest-ever measure to combat traffic congestion.

The measure only allowed 240,000 cars to be registered in 2011 through a new lottery system. Beijing registered nearly three times as many cars last year.

Compared with the compulsory purchase limit, the increase in parking fees is more widely accepted as a means to alleviate traffic jams in developed countries, said Wang Wei, a professor with the National School of Administration.

"Of course, the premise is that the government can provide sound public transport services," Wang added.

In 2010, Beijing had 14 subways in operation that covered more than 300 km. The infrastructure is expected to grow to 561 km in five years.

This year, the municipal government will pour 200 million yuan (30.3 million U.S. dollars) to relieve traffic jams. Most of the money will be used to improve public transport facilities.

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Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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