Ministry sees buses and trams as best way to tackle worsening traffic congestion Public transport is to be made more attractive in an attempt to ease bumper to bumper congestion in big cities by 2010, the Ministry of Construction has announced. At the National Urban Public Transport Priority Development meeting, which ended yesterday, the ministry set itself the target of raising public transport usage to 30 per cent within five years, from the present 10 per cent across the nation. Complaints of city buses and trams frequently being behind schedule have soared in recent years. With national policies encouraging people to buy cars, growing car ownership in big cities has resulted in new roads being built and old ones being broadened, creating room for more cars to compete with buses, thus exacerbating traffic and pollution problems. According to data provided by the World Bank at the meeting, the average vehicle speed during peak hours on arterial roads between Beijing's second and third ring roads was 45km/h in 1994. Last year it was below 10km/h, slower than the average speed of bicycles. The ministry's urban construction department deputy director, Wang Fengwu , said: 'In any city, road broadening efforts will never be able to catch up with the growth in vehicle ownership. It's unrealistic to solve traffic jams by broadening roads. We must work to develop a mass transit system.' Authorities will aim to bring average bus speeds to 20km/h by 2010 in cities, and the punctuality rate should not be less than 90 per cent. The ministry announced a number of policies, including setting up a priority signal system to grant buses more green-light time, incorporating public transport into urban planning programmes, banning the sale of buses and route operation rights to individuals, and asking local governments to enhance financial and policy support. Bus facilities have largely been neglected by local governments in the rush to put fixed asset investments into road and bridge projects. In 117 cities surveyed by the ministry this year, 66 received no financial support or preferential policies from local governments to build bus stations or upgrade vehicles. With bus companies struggling to survive, some have sold stakes to individuals, an action that Construction Minister Wang Guangtao described as 'irresponsible efforts to get rid of burdens'. At the meeting, Mr Wang criticised the chaotic management practices of bus operations in some cities, naming and shaming Chongqing for an accident on October 1 that killed more than 30 people in a private bus. 'Mass transit should stick to the domination of state ownership,' he said. 'Local governments should prevent poor management caused by subcontractors.'