September 28, 2008 / 8:44 AM / 9 years ago

Clogged Beijing unveils new traffic controls

BEIJING (Reuters) - Flushed with the success of Olympic traffic controls and struck by the painful return to congested normality, Beijing on Saturday unveiled plans for smaller-scale but permanent controls on its drivers.

Cars will be banned from the roads one out of five weekdays, in a system based on the number of their license plate, and 30 percent of government cars will be taken off the road entirely, the official Xinhua agency reported.

The new rules will kick in for a six-month trial on October 11.

Department stores will open and close an hour later and the government will encourage companies to allow flexible working hours or change their shifts to ease the rush hour traffic that brings parts of the city to a near standstill.

It is also considering raising downtown parking fees.

After the clearer skies and smooth roads of the Olympics the city has been buzzing with discussions of whether the traffic controls that grounded cars on alternate days for two months could be extended.

Under the new system all cars will be free to circulate at weekends. On Mondays cars with license plates ending with 1 or 6 will be banned, on Tuesdays those ending with 2 or 7, on Wednesdays 3 and 8, on Thursdays 4 or 9 and on Friday 5 or 0.

Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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