Road to Beijing Part V - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Road to Beijing Part V

By Howard Dashefsky

BEIJING, China (KHNL) -- In the wake of last Monday's deadly earthquake, the Chinese government will be dealing with the long term effects on the country's infrastructure. The trembler left many roads in ruins.

And with a population of more than 1.3 billion in China, keeping people and business moving is critical.

Especially in Beijing where the Summer Olympics games are now just 81 days away.

For decades, this was the preferred mode of transportation in China. In fact, it's estimated there is a bicycle for every two of China's 1.3 billion people.

But Capitalism and Consumerism have taken hold in this region, and now the world's most populous country is moving from peddle power to horse power.

"There's no place to park because there are no parking spaces," said Mr. Pan, a driver.  "But the quality of life is continuously improving, so people who want to buy cars are now able to do it. You put those two things together and you get cars everywhere."

Before the 1980's, private were banned from owning cars and trucks. But now according to the Chinese association of automobile manufacturers, there were 20 million cars in use by the year 2005.

And by 2020, it's estimated there will be a staggering 140 million vehicles on the highways and biways of China.

In order to accommodate all these cars and trucks, the Chinese government embarked on a massive multi-billion dollar upgrade to its infrastructure. From thousand of miles of new highways and expressways, to several new subway lines, Beijing is enjoying life in the fast lane.

"When you are in Beijing one of the options is to talke the subway system," said Beijing resident Michelle Chen. "And there will be at least seven subway lines for your choice and one of those subways lines is in particular for the Olympics which is called the Olympic line and it will take you directly to the new national stadium."

And with more and more people pouring into this fast growing, fast moving city, keeping the system user friendly is key. Not only for those who live and work in Beijing, but for your everyday run of the mill tourist trying to make his way from point A to point B.

Beijing's rapid transit system is still in it's infancy. The working plan is to add 14 more lines, that would cover an additional 335 miles.

And the government hopes to have it all up and running by the year 2015!

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