No-car day

Published: Sunday 30 November 2008

Olympics over, green measures on

EVEN though the Olympics are over, there is no let off in Beijing's attempt to keep its smoggy skies clear and sustain the smooth traffic.

On October 13, the city authorities reinstated some of the traffic rules imposed on cars during the two-month Olympics and Paralympics. The attempt is to keep about 0.8 million cars off the roads every week day. Depending on the last digit of the licence numbers, the cars have been divided into five groups and each group is banned for one week day; there will be no ban on weekends.

The new restriction also covers government vehicles and corporate cars. The ban is applicable for 15 hours for private cars and round-the-clock for government and corporate cars.

There is an incentive for those who comply: the restricted vehicles are exempted from paying vehicle tax for a month and road maintenance fee for a year. Those who violate the restrictions, said the authorities, would be fined 100 yuan (us $14.7) and will no longer enjoy the relief.

The city authorities hope that the traffic restrictions--which will be in place till April 10, 2009, on a trial basis--will help reduce the city's average traffic flow by 6.5 per cent and speed up the traffic by 8 per cent.

To discourage people from driving, the authorities also drafted measures like limiting issuance of new car licences and a hike in car parking fees. The city authorities have expanded the public transport by 10 per cent and plan to improve it.

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