Beijing to impose odd-even car ban in heavy pollution

Oct 17, 2013
Cars travel through a haze of pollution in Beijing on December 5, 2011

Beijing drivers will soon be able to use their vehicles only every other day during heavy pollution, Chinese state media reported Thursday.

China's capital is regularly hit by extended bouts of choking, acrid smog, with heavy industries and car-use both among the key culprits.

Under the scheme cars with odd and even licence plates will be banned from the city's roads on alternate days whenever serious air pollution persists for three consecutive days, Xinhua said.

The plan was approved Wednesday and is set to be released by Beijing city authorities, the official news agency reported.

More than a quarter of Beijing's 20 million people own a car, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Residents have greeted previous odd-even car bans with mixed reactions, with some arguing that the measure should be made permanent and others contending that the city's public transportation infrastructure is insufficient to make up for the increase in ridership brought about by the ban.

The new rules will be an expansion of current restrictions, under which cars are blocked from Beijing's streets for one weekday per week, depending on the final digit of their licence plate, with two numbers banned each day.

A four-colour rating system will be used for Beijing's air quality, with red the worst.

Further details, including fines for those who violate the regulation, were not immediately available.

The plan mirrors a scheme that was rolled out during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and again in 2011.

In an effort to limit the number of vehicles on the road, the city launched a lottery system two years ago for distributing new licence plates.

China's booming economy has driven demand so high that as of March, only one in every 80 applicants had a shot at receiving a registration, the newspaper reported.

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