Beijing Plans World's Biggest Subway

By 2010, the city wants 40% of commuters to be using public transportation.

Beijing would expand its subway system to 273 kilometers (169 miles) by 2010 and to 561 kilometers by 2020, surpassing London as the city with the world's most extensive underground, reports said. The city's newly approved five-year public transport plan would shift the focus from building roads for car use to constructing a high-speed public transport system to ease the growing gridlock, the China News Service said.

Besides completing five new rail lines by 2010, including an already announced light rail connecting the city center to the airport, Beijing would also build 300 kilometers of specialized bus lanes, Liu Ziaoming, vice head of the city's traffic deparment said.

B 2010, the goal is to have 40% or more of the city's commuting done on public transport, with up to six million passenger rail trips and over 13 million bus journeys daily.

The official Xinhua news agency reported last month that traffic in Beijing had reached crisis levels, with more than 1,100 new cars hitting the city's roads each day. "Urban road transport in the Chinese capital has reached a crisis point, with 90% of roads operating at full capacity and little room for expansion," the agency said. Xinhua said Beijing had 2.78 million registered motor vehicles, including 1.97 million private cars.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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