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Back-To-Work Traffic Better Than Expected

Al Guo – SCMP – Updated on Aug 12, 2008

Beijing’s traffic was not as clogged as expected yesterday, the first workday during the Olympics, although some sections of major city roads were congested during both morning and evening rush hours.

The real-time traffic map on the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau’s website showed yellow and red warnings only in Changan Avenue, an arterial east-west road, the Second Ring Road and routes leading to the airport. Yellow means minor congestion and red severe traffic jams. The rest of the city remained green, meaning smooth traffic flows.

The relatively smooth traffic conditions on the third day of Olympic competition could be partly attributed to repeated bureau warnings on television, on radio, online and in newspapers about a sudden upsurge in traffic.

Commuter Li Zhengkun said he had taken note of the warnings and rode a bicycle to work. “And my wife simply walked to work, because we hate being stuck in traffic.” He and his wife are avid badminton fans, and watched the morning matches over the internet on their office computers.

It is not known how many people have taken time off work during the Olympics. Commuter Wang Jing said she thought the bus she had taken was less crowded than on Thursday, the last workday before the opening ceremony.

“There were definitely fewer people on my bus today. I guess some people don’t have to work like me,” said Ms Wang, who works for a medical-equipment company. Some companies, she’s heard, allow employees to take time off to watch the Games, but hers does not.

“No one in my company can get time off. We keep our office TV on all day so we can keep track of how many medals China has won.”

Motorist Zhang Chunyan was stuck near the Airport Expressway yesterday morning for almost an hour, but she was not worried about being late for work: her company has introduced flexible hours during the Olympics. “You arrive late; you leave late. As long as you work eight hours a day, you will be fine.”

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