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Beijing Announces US$34 Bln Traffic Plan

Beijing's traffic infrastructure budget in the next five years will be more than the one for the previous five years, a senior transport official with the municipal government has said.

Liu Xiaoming, director of the Beijing municipal committee of communications, said the city will spend 240 billion yuan (US$34 billion) by 2012 to upgrade its traffic infrastructure, Beijing News reported on Saturday.

In the five years before the Olympics, the city had spent 170 billion yuan, Liu said.

"We will make sure our investment on transport infrastructure is no less than 5 percent of our GDP in the coming few years," he said.

The money will mainly be spent on extending the city's subway lines, which currently total 110km, he said.

By 2012, the city is expected to have 420km of subway lines in operation, Liu said.

Line 10, with a length of 25km, has cost the city 13.7 billion yuan, or 548 million yuan per km.

In a bid to accelerate fixed asset investment to maintain stable growth, Beijing has decided to spend much more on infrastructure.

The municipal government said earlier that construction of subway lines 7 and 14 is expected to start within this year.

It now plans to also start construction of Line 15, which connects the Summer Palace with the suburban Shunyi District, within the year.

Liu said the current low traffic fare will not be increased now that the Olympic Games is over.

Ou Guoli, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, said it was necessary to develop subways in Beijing as it was one of the best ways to ease traffic congestion.

As car-ownership rapidly increases, Liu hinted that the city was considering containing growth.

He did not elaborate.

He said currently Beijing has 3.4 million cars and if there is no restriction, the number will exceed 4 million in three years.

It took Tokyo, Japan 10 years for the number of cars to increase from 2 million to 3 million.

Beijing Television on Saturday quoted authorities as saying traffic in the past month had fallen by almost 30 percent by banning cars with certain license plates from the roads one day a week and raising parking fees.

(China Daily November 11, 2008)

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