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September 23, 2013

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City promotes public transport on car-free day

SHANGHAI marked World Car-Free Day yesterday with a series of publicity campaigns to promote low-carbon transportation, but didn’t prevent cars from entering certain downtown areas as it had in the past.

All roads in the city were open as usual to vehicles yesterday, the first work day after the Mid-Autumn Festival.

It was the seventh year Shanghai participated in World Car-Free Day along with 150 other cities around the country. Officials used the theme “Greener Traffic, Cleaner Air” to encourage car owners to take public transportation more often and help ease road congestion and contribute to better air quality.

A total of 150 volunteers bicycled past some of the city’s landmarks including Xintiandi, Yuyuan Garden and the Bund to raise awareness of the health and environmental benefits of cycling.

Environmental protection authorities said they would soon publish air quality results from yesterday and surrounding days for comparison.

On previous car-free days, Shanghai restricted private vehicles from entering certain downtown areas, but not enough people complied and it created massive traffic jams on surrounding rounds.

Some residents had complained that such traffic restrictions were only symbolic and did little to improve air quality.

Still, some people have switched from private to public transport.

A woman surnamed Chen said yesterday she used to drive to her office but now takes the subway.

“World Car-Free Day and related activities are necessary,” Chen said. “A Metro train is certainly more crowded, but it ensures you reach the office on time. There are simply too many cars on the road during rush hours these days.

“It will take time before more people start to choose public transport. However, a car is still necessary to go to places where public transportation doesn’t cover,” she added.

Shanghai Transportation Card Co held lucky draws yesterday to promote public transport. It gave out gifts worth 400 yuan (US$65) to 2,500 transport card users.



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