About 1.3 million vehicles are now missing from Beijing's streets, a test of the city's ability to clean its dirty air for next year's Olympic Games.
The four-day test plan runs from Aug. 17-20, said Beijing organizers.
Under the plan, cars with even- and odd-numbered plates will be allowed on the roads on alternate days. Emergency vehicles, taxis, buses and other public service vehicles will be exempt. Fines will be levied on violators, though it was unclear how much.
Beijing has 3.05 million vehicles, officials said Thursday, and is expected to have 3.3 million when the Olympics begin on Aug. 8, 2008.
"Citizens of Beijing understand politics and the big picture - they will understand," Du Shaozhong said, deputy director of Beijing's Environmental Bureau. "It's not just for the Olympics, but also for building a better Beijing."
"A clean-air plan for the Olympics will be published this year, and the most important part is the reduction of vehicles," Du added. He said other measures would include halting construction and closing factories.
The plan comes in the wake of criticism about Beijing's air pollution from International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. He cautioned on Wednesday - the day the Olympic countdown clocks reached the 1-year mark - that some events next year would have to be postponed if the city's smog continued to threaten the performance of elite athletes.
A similar traffic plan nine months ago met with success during a six-day meeting between Chinese and African leaders. Under that plan, about 800,000 vehicles were taken off the streets as bureaucrats and ordinary citizens were asked not to drive.