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Beijing to continue with curbs on cars

BEIJING will extend its post-Olympic vehicle restrictions for another year in an effort to ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution, the capital city's traffic officials said yesterday.

The extension was widely expected as a majority of residents in Beijing supported fewer cars on the roads and cleaner air.

The restrictions, based on license plate numbers, take 20 percent of the city's 3.61 million vehicles off the roads each weekday.

"It will be carried out from April 11 (this year) to April 10, 2010," said Wang Zhaorong, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

Small changes have been made to post-Olympic vehicle restrictions, which began on October 11 last year and expire last Friday.

For private cars, the new ban is effective from 7am to 8pm, compared to 6am to 9pm under the current rule. The restrictions remain in effect round the clock for government and corporate vehicles.

Residents will be allowed to drive on the Fifth Ring Road throughout the week.

Also, car owners will have the same "off-day" for 13 weeks in a row instead of four weeks to reduce confusion.

There continue to be no restrictions on weekends and public holidays and for emergency vehicles, taxis, mass transit vehicles and other public service vehicles.

During the Olympics and Paralympics last summer, Beijing imposed a traffic ban based on an odd-even license plate system. The initiative took 45 percent of cars off the roads and helped clear the skies, but as soon as the ban was lifted in September, traffic jams resumed.


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