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Beijing tackles transport problems

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BEIJING, China -- Beijing will spend $9 billion to ensure that public transport can cope with the strain of the 2008 Olympic Games and beyond, officials said on Wednesday.

The city has already spent 11.67 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) this year on improving and expanding roads, subways and other facilities, said Liu Xiaoming, Beijing Government Transportation Committee spokesman.

"We are trying to make using public transportation fashionable for Beijing citizens," Liu told a news conference.

The city's clogged roads have become a major concern less than two years before the Games open.

In Beijing -- where about 1,000 new vehicles take to the road a day -- the average speed during peak hours on the city's arterial roads had dropped by half in the last decade, the World Bank said in a report earlier this year.

"This is a problem which will take a long time to solve," Liu said.

He added that total investment in Beijing's public transport would reach 71.5 billion yuan by 2010. He did not provide a breakdown.

The government will also give discounts of up to 80 percent for residents for bus tickets to encourage people to leave their cars at home, Liu said.

Beijing's clogged roads are a major cause for concern for Olympics organizers

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