- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

BEIJING (AP) - China’s capital announced a year’s extension for traffic restrictions aimed at reducing congestion and improving air quality _ a lighter version of rules launched to clean up Beijing for the Olympics.

The measures take a fifth of the city’s 3.61 million vehicles off roads each weekday, according to the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

The restrictions were first announced in October following public debate over whether to extend traffic restrictions that helped keep skies clear during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They were set to expire at the end of this week.

The traffic bureau said on its Web site Sunday that the capital will continue to keep a third of government vehicles off the road altogether.

The remaining government cars, together with privately owned vehicles, will still be banned from roads one day a week on a rotation basis according to license plate numbers, the traffic bureau said. The restrictions, which come into effect in the coming week, do not apply on weekends.

Police wagons, emergency vehicles, buses and taxis will continue to be exempt from the restrictions.

During the Olympics, half of Beijing’s 3.3 million private vehicles were taken off the road on alternate days depending on whether their license plates ended in odd or even numbers. Those curbs were lifted in September.

The scheme during the games gave Beijing’s 17 million residents a chance to experience clear summer skies as the city recorded its lowest August pollution levels in 10 years.

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