Beijing is planning to build the world's biggest subway and dramatically expand its bus network as part of efforts to combat the city's fast-increasing traffic grid-lock(1), state press has said.
The Chinese capital will 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, the reports said.
The city's current metro rail system is 115 kilometers, with 54 kilometers of subway.
The city's newly approved five-year public transport plan will shift the focus from building roads for car use to constructing a high-speed public transport system to ease the growing grid-lock.
"When Beijing citizens are in the city center, we want them to be able to get to places faster by using public transport than by using a car," the report quoted Liu Xiaoming, vice head of the city's traffic department, as saying.
Besides completing five new rail lines by 2010, including an already announced light rail connecting the city center to the airport, Beijing will also build 300 kilometers of specialized(2) bus lanes, Liu said.
But by 2010, it is hoped that 40 percent or more of the city's daily commuting will be done on public transport, with up to six million passengers commuting by rail and over 13 million travelling by bus daily, it said.
Although Beijing currently only boasts two subway lines and two light rail tracks, three more underground lines are under construction and slated(3) to be completed by 2008 when the city hosts the Olympic Games, the China Daily said.
Beijing's efforts to build public transport have greatly lagged(4) behind the city's construction of new highways, ring roads and widened streets to meet the demands of the 2.75 million cars currently plying city streets.
"Motorized vehicle use is growing rapidly and by 2010 it is estimated that there will be 3.5 million vehicles in the city," another city traffic official said.
"This will bring the city huge traffic pressures that cannot be alleviated(5) through the mere expansion and building of new roads."