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Car Curfew Comes into Force

A rule restricting the use of government vehicles came into force on Monday, meaning hundreds of government cars should be taken out of service for one day each week.

The latest energy-saving campaign targets the thousands of government cars on Shanghai's streets.

The rule says government vehicles with number plates ending 1 or 6 are not allowed to drive on Mondays, plates ending 2 or 7 can't drive on Tuesdays, 3 or 8 on Wednesdays, 4 or 9 on Thursdays and those ending 5 or 0 on Fridays.

Government cars serve government department officials and managers of state-owned companies.

The Government Administration Office said it had not received any reports of government vehicles with plates ending 1 or 6 driving on the streets on Monday.

Officials said enforcement of the energy-saving rules would largely be on an honor system, but they are also carrying out random checks.

No punishment for breaking the car curfew was specified when the municipal government announced the rule last month. It is likely that those breaking the rules will just be given a warning.

The Administration Office of Pudong New Area said it had reinforced check-ups at the entrances and exits of parking lots at district government offices.

"We have already worked out breakdowns of vehicles that need to be taken out of service each day," said an official, surnamed Yao, with the administration office.

"Some officials who live nearby are sharing cars to go to work or taking buses or the Metro," Yao said.

More than 70 government vehicles serving Pudong were taken off the street on Monday.

"On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be even fewer cars on the road, as more government vehicles have plates that end in two, three, seven and eight," Yao said.

Government drivers won't get an extra day off because of the new rules, as they are required to clean and repair their cars when they're not on the road.

"Now is a good chance to give the car a thorough check and clean-up," said the driver of plate number E63126, on Monday. He was washing the car in the parking lot of the Pudong District government building.

The vehicle usually serves officials who work with the district Discipline Inspection Commission.

The city government didn't specify how many government cars are in service in the Shanghai area but a local information analyst working with the government department said there were thousands in use.

(Shanghai Daily November 4, 2008)

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