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Beijing Set For New Measures On Vehicle Use

Agence France-Presse in Beijing – Updated on Sep 29, 2008

Beijing will implement new traffic control measures aimed at clearing the capital’s smoggy skies and road congestion.

However, the measures will not be as tough as the rules implemented for the Olympics.

From Wednesday, 30 per cent of government vehicles would be taken off the roads, the municipal government announced yesterday on its website.

From October 11, the remaining government vehicles and all private cars would be banned from the city’s roads for one day each week, depending on their number plates.

The measures were intended to “reduce the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality and maintain basic transport order”, the government said.

The stricter Olympic restrictions, which expired on September 20, limited private motorists to driving on alternate days, removing more than a million of the city’s roughly 3.3 million vehicles each day. Other measures included shutting factories and halting construction activity.

The measures led to unusually blue skies. Authorities said atmospheric data showed Beijing enjoyed its best air quality in a decade. Since then, the usual traffic gridlock – and the smog – has returned.

Beijing’s air is among the most polluted in the world, and the problem is getting worse, with about 1,000 new private cars bought each day by its increasingly affluent residents.

The apparent success of the steps for the Olympics led to calls for them to be made permanent. Instead, the new measures will be implemented on a trial basis until April.

The authorities are also encouraging employers to shift their workdays to begin and end later to ease rush-hour congestion.

Parking fees may also rise.

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