Beijing revs up Olympics traffic plan
Clogged with traffic and suffocated by pollution, Bejing is getting ready to implement a new traffic plan in an effort to clear the air for the August Olympics. Improving air quality is a formidable task in a city with three million cars. "We hope to see a bluer sky," said city spokesman Zhou Zhengyu.
With 49 days remaining before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, and the air soupy with smog, Beijing officials formally announced a temporary measure on Friday to unsnarl the city’s traffic and reduce its chronic and sometimes choking air pollution.
The policy, which Chinese media outlined months ago but the government waited to announce until today, will be enforced from July 20 through Sept. 20, a period that includes both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It will restrict owners of private cars to driving on alternate days, depending on whether the last number of their license plate is even or odd, officials said at a news conference on Friday. Operating hours for public transportation will be extended during the two-month period, the officials said.
Beijing has 27 air-quality monitoring stations, but some observers have questioned whether the stations, many of which are located in rural and mountainous areas in the city’s suburbs, accurately reflect the quality of air in the crowded urban center of the city where most people live — and where most Olympic events will take place. In recent days, one reporter at the news conference remarked, the hazy air has seemed polluted though the environmental agency’s daily figures say the pollution level has been low.