Beijing officials are trying to convince the city's 13 million residents to use public transportation, a step that should please 2008 Olympic planners troubled by the capital's snarled traffic and dirty air.
Without offering specific money figures, Liu Xiaoming, spokesman for Beijing's Transportation Commission, said Wednesday that spending on public transportation would be boosted in the 600 days remaining before the 2008 Olympics begin.
Liu also said new bus and subway passes would be introduced early in 2007.
"And before the Olympic Games we will try to introduce new cards and passes; new systems that will be more helpful to foreign visitors."
The city's subway system is expected to grow from its present 192 kilometers (120 miles), reaching 300 kilometers (185 miles) by 2010 and 560 kilometers (350 miles) by 2015.
Despite the optimism, Liu offered figures suggesting the city was losing ground in its battle with chronic traffic congestion which, together with nearby heavy industry, is the source of frequently choking air pollution.
_ Beijing has 2.85 million vehicles, a figure expected to swell by 35 percent to 3.8 million in 2010.
_ The number of commuters using public transportation has increased from 26.5 percent in 2000 to 29.6 percent in 2005. In the same span, the number of private cars used for commuting has grown even more quickly from 23.2 percent to 29.8 percent.
"Our effort in alleviating congestion has been mitigated by the growth of urban construction and population," Liu said.
Liu said city officials were encouraged by the fall in car usage during last month's China-Africa summit. Using mandatory and voluntary measures, about 30 percent of vehicles were removed from the roads during the six days of meetings between Chinese and African leaders.
The measures may be a preview of the 2008 Olympics.
"It was a very good experience for us for the 2008 Olympic Games," Liu said. "I think the China-Africa forum has accelerated our efforts in developing and reforming our public transportation."
However, Liu said there was no plan to stem the soaring number of vehicle in the capital.
"At present the government does not have any policy or intention to control the number of private cars," he said. "But that does not mean the number of private car can grow without limits."