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China to Restrict Car Usage, Ban Trucks in Beijing During Olympics

In an effort to clear the smog-filled air in Beijing before the start of the summer Olympic games, Chinese government officials have announced a temporary restriction on driving. The New York Times reports that from July 20 through September 20, the policy will restrict owners of private vehicles to driving on alternate days, based on whether the last number of their license plate is even or odd. Operating hours for public transportation will be extended during the restriction period. In addition, officials say that approximately 70 percent of the 300,000 cars registered to the government will be taken off the roads during the period. Trucks and other vehicles with high emissions will be forbidden to enter Beijing beginning July 1. The Times quotes Du Shaozhong, a spokesperson for the city's environmental protection agency, as saying the government hopes to reduce air pollution in the Beijing area by an estimated 63 percent. The government had previously announced plans to shut down factories during the Olympics to control pollution in the area.