Daley looks to Beijing subway as Chicago example

Aug. 06, 2008, 3:07 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Chicago Mayor Richard Daley took a subway ride in Beijing on Wednesday as part of his efforts to scope out ways his city can refine its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Daley is in China this week for the Olympics and said that seeing Beijing's public transit system was a top priority.

"I've been very impressed," he said, calling the system safe, clean and friendly.

China's capitol opened two new subway lines and an airport rail link just before the games, which start Friday. The Olympics are a big test of the already crowded public transportation system, and passengers on the three new routes are expected to top more than 1 million a day during the games.

Transportation is a key component of Chicago's bid for the 2016 games. It's among the areas the city must address because Olympic officials already have questioned its $27 billion estimate for highway and transit projects.

Chicago is competing with Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo for the right to hold the games.

Daley is part of a Chicago contingent of more than a dozen people at the Olympics, the only chance for local organizers to see a games before the International Olympic Committee chooses the 2016 host next year.

Daley said Chicago's infrastructure could be drastically improved if the Chicago Transit Authority used newer rail cars similar to those in Beijing.

"If you can get a modern car built on the old structure, I think you can. I think we can," he said.

But Daley said upgrading an aging public transportation system to be as good as the one in Beijing isn't cheap and finding the money to do it is difficult.