ublic transport is clean and safe in Beijing. The workforce is so large in China that most roads and public transport are spotless as workers continually pick up after litterers.
Public transportation is extremely inexpensive and the government intends to keep it that way to encourage people to use public transportation over private cars. The subway system has improved dramatically and is much more practical now that there are many more lines taking riders all over the city. However, because the city is spread out, your destination may be still a long walk away from the closest subway stop. Many locals who commute by subway may ride their bike to the subway stop, lock it up there, and then take the subway into work. Some also take a taxi to the closest subway stop and then ride the subway into the center of the city or across town in order to avoid gridlock. This can be a real time saver.
Buses are even cheaper to take and criss-cross the city, however, expats do not generally take the bus since all signage is in Chinese at bus stops and bus stations. Most buses are clean and modern, many with television screens installed. Buses can often be very crowded since ticket prices start as low as .50 RMB per ticket or even less for students.