From: Reuters
Published January 13, 2008 06:25 AM

Beijing car ownership soars along with traffic woes

BEIJING (Reuters) - More than 400,000 new cars hit the roads in China's capital in 2006, state media said on Monday, or more than 1,000 a day, snarling Beijing's efforts to control the city's notorious traffic ahead of the 2008 Olympics.

Beijing authorities expect the number of cars in the city to continue to grow by about 10 percent a year for the forseeable future, Xinhua news agency reported.

Despite the increase, authorities would not limit the number of private cars on the roads, but instead focus on improving the road network, the report said.

Beijing is rapidly expanding its network of subway lines and has experimented with taking cars off the road to try to curb traffic jams, clear smog and ensure smooth transport for the Olympics, which it will host in August.

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But other Chinese cities, where car ownership is also soaring as the middle class expands, are taking more aggressive measures.

The financial capital Shanghai levies high fees for license plates and is considering London-style "congestion fees" for private cars during peak hours.

(Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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