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Beijing's car limit rolled out on holidays

06-01-2011 10:11 BJT

Beijing's daily license plate restrictions are to be extended to include bad weather conditions, major events and festivals, according to a municipal work plan released on Tuesday.

Depending on the day of the week, licence plates ending in certain numbers are banned from the roads, a congestion-busting policy that was first applied during the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"Almost half of the cars disappeared from the roads during the Games," said veteran taxi driver Dou Keying. "Yet, it was unfair to private car owners. Why should the government allow them to buy cars but ban them from driving them?"

Professor Zhang Zhuting, a member of a legal consulting committee under the Ministry of Transport, agrees that the policy interferes with the public interest, adding that it will only have a beneficial effect when the city has built a convenient public transport system that can accommodate more people.

Liu Shubin, a computer engineer working in the central business district, said he feels the rotating ban is already harsh.

To get to work, he has to take a bus then switch to the subway where he has to transfer between two lines. The journey will take him more than an hour. A direct bus takes about two. By car it takes just 40 minutes.

"Many of my colleagues have the same problem," Zhang said. "It's such a waste of time by bus or subway. It's not that we don't like public transport, especially considering parking fees in the CBD cost about 20 yuan a day while public transport costs only 5 yuan.

"If the subways and buses were less crowded and more comfortable, and if it were easier to transfer lines, we would be happy to take public transport."

To support a better public transport system, professor Zhang said the municipal government should call on citizens to reduce unnecessary outings. For short distances, he said, citizens do not need to drive cars.

Taxi companies could also take phone reservations so empty cabs would not need to drive around looking for passengers. "Still, the improvement of a city's traffic situation would have to rely on its citizens being self-disciplined and well behaved on the roads," he said.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: China Daily

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