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Beijing is aiming to halve the traffic by Olympics

The New York Times reported Beijing’s planning to cut traffic by half for Olympics this week. The city will dedicate…

By Shanshan Lu , in 2008 Beijing Olympics Blogs , on January 25, 2008

The New York Times reported Beijing’s planning to cut traffic by half for Olympics this week.

The city will dedicate lanes to Olympic traffic and increase public transportation with new shuttle buses to accommodate visitors and local residents, an article in The Beijing News said. (more on the story in Chinese)
“The task of controlling pollution and traffic congestion is arduous,” Guo Jinlong, the acting mayor of Beijing, said Sunday, the state media reported.

The number of vehicles in the city was expected to reach 3.3 million by August, meaning that roughly 1.65 million cars and trucks would be pulled off roads each day, according to The Beijing News.

“If Beijing had focused on construction of subway instead of the five rings, Beijing’s public transportation would have been far more efficient than it is today.” said Ning Ni, a scholar with People’s University of China.

Realizing more effort on the upper-ground level would only bring more cars on the street, the central government started to focus on the underground construction—the subway.

Since subway line 5 was put into effect last October, the subway ticket has been reduced to two yuan from five yuan with transfers involving subway line 13 and subway line 8, which travels to beyond the fifth ring.

Now the subway line 10 and the Olympics Special line are both under construction.

Beijing’s traffic is also a result of the souring housing prices.

The average of 2000 U.S. dollars per square-meter in downtown Beijing far more over-exceeded the average annual salary of 5000 U.S. dollars—according to Beijing Statistics Bureau 2006. This means, Beijingers’ annual salary could only buy them 2 square-meters. A 100-square –meter apartment could cost them at least 50 years. (more on the salary in China)

Therefore, most people live outside the central city and work in downtown area. They depend on public transportation a lot. They spend as long as two hours on the way to work everyday.

“How can you blame it? That is the price of living in the capital city,” said Ping Zhong, a newly post-graduate working with the Art Gallery of Beijing.