|Passengers enter into a metro train carriage of newly-opened Yizhuang Line in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 30, 2010. Beijing opened five new suburban subway and light rail lines Thursday as it moves to tackle the city's chronic traffic congestion problem through the development of its rapid transit network. The five new lines -- Fangshan Line, Changping Line, the first phase of the No. 15 Line, Yizhuang Line and Daxing Line -- have a combined length of 108 kilometers, bringing the total length of metro in the Chinese capital to 336 kilometers. (Xinhua/Ma Sa)
BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Beijing opened five new suburban subway and light rail lines Thursday as it moves to tackle the city's chronic traffic congestion problem through the development of its rapid mass transit network.
The five new lines -- Fangshan Line, Changping Line, the first phase of the No. 15 Line, Yizhuang Line and Daxing Line -- have a combined length of 108 kilometers, bringing the total length of metro in the Chinese capital to 336 kilometers.
The new lines bring the total number of metro lines in the city to 14.
The new lines cost nearly 61 billion yuan (about 9.2 billion U.S. dollars) to build.
Beijing's metro network now hauls 5.02 million passengers per day.
"The opening of the five new lines strengthens links between Beijing's downtown area and the suburban districts of Changping, Shunyi, Fangshan, Daxing and Yizhuang. The new lines will help citizens travel around the city with convenience," said Li Xiaosong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.
Massive traffic jams have long been a headache for Beijing, a city of 20 million people and 4.8 million vehicles. This year, an average 2,000 new cars hit the city's streets every day.
A week ago, authorities in Beijing announced they will slash new car registrations to ease traffic gridlock. Next year, the city will allow only 240,000 vehicles to be registered, about two-thirds less than this year.
Moreover, Beijing municipal government agencies and public institutions were ordered not to increase the size of their motor vehicle fleets over the next five years.
Other measures include higher parking fees in the city's central areas, stricter traffic rules for cars registered outside Beijing.
One other measure is an odd-even license plate number system that allows cars to be driven every other day in rush hour in some congested areas.
Officials have acknowledged the restrictions will not automatically solve the city's traffic woes.
"China is urbanizing quickly. Road construction cannot ease traffic congestion," Li said.
"Developing public transport, especially rapid rail transit, is an important move for Beijing and other cities, to ease traffic congestion and improve urban functionality," she said.
Beijing is building more subway lines. The number of lines in the city will reach 19 by 2015. Then, their combined length will total 561 kilometers. By 2020, the total subway length will increase to 1,000 kilometers, she said.