The Beijing Municipal Government says the development of smart traffic systems will be given top priority to ensure smooth traffic during the 2008 Olympics.

Like many municipalities around the world, Beijing is facing increasing traffic pressure. And the government is racking its brain to find a solution.

According to a spokesman, more expressways for buses will be built before the 2008 Olympics. Take an already-in-use fast line as an example: a bus can now finish its 30-kilometer journey in around forty minutes, which was previously impossible. In addition, 200-kilometers of rail will be laid and ready for use before the Games. And by 2015, nearly 600 kilometers of rail lines will be in use. The daily number of passengers is expected to reach eight million.

Concerning Beijing’s traffic policy during the Games, an official says previous host cities’ experiences will be used as references.

Liu Xiaoming, deputy director of BJ Municipal Comm. of Communications, said, “As for whether even-numbered and odd-numbered cars will be required to be on the road alternatively during the Olympics, we are still carrying out discussions. We tried this policy for four days in August. The air quality during that period was better, and traffic was smoother.”

Beijing’s bad traffic has not dampened the city’s fervor for cars. Over one thousand new cars are registered daily. The official also outlined the government’s policy on private cars.

Liu said, “The government will not curb the purchase of new cars, but it will use various measures to guide the use of private cars. Environmental protection and energy saving will be the government’s major concern in the city’s traffic structure.”

For private car owners, the government will promote a GPS system. It will provide immediate information on traffic, as well as details on parking lots. The service will be free.

As the 2008 Olympics draw near, solving traffic related problems is becoming more urgent. Officials say they can’t always rely on temporary measures such as limiting the number of cars on the road. Regular smooth traffic is still a long way off.

AUTHOR: Liu Fang
DATED: 14th December 2007