Officials set to do without cars

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2008, 12:00am

National and municipal authorities in Beijing have started cutting the number of government cars on the capital's roads in line with a pledge to reduce their on-road fleets by 70 per cent from July 20 in the interests of cleaner air and smoother traffic for the Olympic Games.

The move seems to have made life less convenient for Beijing officials and public servants, but several government sources said they could accept the measure.

'I see that as a kind of contribution we can do for the success of the Beijing Olympic Games,' one official said, adding that his department was notified long ago about plans to leave most of its vehicles in the garage.

All ministerial-level officials will continue to have access to government cars but, one step down on the bureaucratic ladder, most division chiefs will have to share cars to meetings in places off-limits to the public.

Officials who have to make do without cars will receive subsidies depending on their rank to take taxis or whatever transport methods they want, according to the official. 'Fortunately, we don't have a lot of meetings when the Olympic Games take place in Beijing, which means we only need to travel between home and the office, not from one meeting to another,' he said.

Beijing authorities announced on Friday that the capital's 3.3 million cars would be subject to odd-even traffic restrictions for two months from July 20. On top of that, 70 per cent of government-owned vehicles would be ordered off the roads.

It is not the first time the city has taken such aggressive measures to reduce traffic. Similar car restrictions took place during the China-Africa summit in 2006 and this year during the Good Luck Beijing Games.

Beijing officials said the city had roughly 300,000 government-owned vehicles, meaning that about 210,000 vehicles would be garaged during the two-month stretch.

City authorities promised to put on more buses and subway trains during the two months. But that will be of little help to officials working in Beijing's suburban districts such as Fangshan, which has no subway link.