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January 6, 2010

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Auto use may be trimmed for Expo

Authorities are considering limit on the use of private cars under "extreme crowded conditions" during the 2010 World Expo, a top city transport official said yesterday.

The limit would apply mainly to major roads near the Expo site, said Huang Rong, director of the Shanghai Urban and Rural Construction and Transport Commission.

But the plan is "unlikely to be enacted" if traffic is smooth, said Huang.

"It is just in reserve in case we have no other better way," he said when asked about the Expo traffic plan in an online conversation with Netizens.

Huang encouraged Expo visitors to take public transport like buses to the site, which will be off limits to private cars.

Speculation has spread online that the city planned to cut the use of some cars on certain days during the Expo according to their license plate numbers, as Beijing did for the 2008 Olympic Games.

But the authorities said the Expo traffic-organization plan is still being worked out.

Though no timetable has yet been set for the plan, the city has already asked some government officials to leave their cars at offices once a week and take buses or subways instead, in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion and pollution.

However, some government officials and experts said the car-ban may not be feasible because the six-month-long Expo lasts much longer than the Olympics.

"It's relatively hard to ban half of the city cars in almost half a year," Zhang Quan, head of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said in September.

"What's more, Shanghai has fewer cars than Beijing does."

In Beijing during the Olympic Games, cars with odd-numbered license plates and those with even-numbered ones were allowed onto the roads on alternate days.

About 1.3 million out of its total 3 million vehicles were banned to ensure clean air during the Games.


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