Headline July 07, 2015/ ''' CITIES : THRONGED -CREAKING AND FILTHY '''

''' CITIES : 


IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, -for sure, every, every city is Just : "O'' My Gosh!"

Karachi, Bangkok, Manila, Rawalpindi,  Decca, Theran, Kolkata,  Mumbai, Delhi, and on and on and on, all getting thronged, creaking, filthy and poor.

Busting cities, bust infrastructure. 

IT IS VERY VERY HARD TO SAY, what makes for a beautiful, serene, and   successful city. Some can be polluted and alive, others spotless and sterile.

Still, no one wants to live in a city that is impossibly congested, suffers constant blackouts and frequents floods, chops down its trees, concrete over its park, has awful schools and hospitals-

Is devoid of any buildings of charm or character and is governed by corrupt politicians and incompetent civil servants. Yet many, many people have to

Transport can sometimes define the form of a city, as river traffic helped shape Tudor London's Thames-side expansion, and the freeways that replaced the old light railways of Los Angeles are both the arteries and the bone structure of the modern city.

Transport,too, is often the most obvious of a city's shortcomings. From Beijing to Tehran to Sao-Paulo, streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are choking with fumes.

The solution to this is clear: good public transport. In some places that is recognised. In southern Brazil, Curitiba, the capital of Parana state, has been trying to keep its transport system abreast of an expanding city's needs since the 1940s, when the town got its first urban plan.

In the 1970s, a busy commercial street was pedestrianised  -a first for Brazil-  and elsewhere buses and local traffic were made to run down the centre of broad roads while faster traffic whizzed one way down either side.

In the 1980s the city went increasingly green, creating parks, extending the transport system and bringing in multicarriage buses. The transport authority collected the fares and paid the bus operator. Curitiba's buses achieved average speeds above 20kph, carrying  12,000 passengers at peak hours.

Rail transport generally does better, but the buses were popular and cheap [though they have recently been losing market share].

Other Brazilian cities have copied Curitiba, but without much success.  Their failure is based on the imperfections of democracy; the Curitiban reforms were pushed through with military backing during a dictatorship that ended in 1985, since when other cities'  efforts have been stymied by the lobbying of the affected bus companies.

This has always ensured that some critical element of the scheme was missing. Yet in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and Bogota, that of Colombia, the Curitiba bus system has worked well, and it has been copied successfully from Jakarta to Brisbane and Ottawa to Rouen.    

In most other places, though, people who can afford cars seem to prefer them. Public transport is often slow, unreliable, and unpleasant. Edward Glaeser, of Harvard University reckons that the average American commuter's journey takes 48 minutes by public transport but only 24 minutes by car.No wonder, so many Americans drive to work.

In Tehran petrol is  heavily subsidised, so taxis are cheap. And then Karachi, Pakistan, is probably the biggest city in the world without a rail network of any kind, and the buses are overloaded. Those who have the option mostly drive.

Probably the only way to get people out of their cars is to hit their pockets. Singapore was the first city to introduce road charges, in 1975. London and Oslo have followed suit. Stockholm joined them, with some success in reducing traffic.

But punitive charges will work only if the displaced drivers can switch to a decent public transport system. Often they cannot.

Some cities are trying to build rail systems, but many seem, even so, to be doomed to reliance on buses. Manila's new railway carries only 8% of the traffic; Bangkok's smart new sky train and metro only 3% and Kolkata's metro even less.

Happy the people of Copenhagen,two-fifths of whom bicycle to work.

A half-way house for many is a scooter or motorbike. Yet even these are under threat. Guangzhou, the richest city in mainland China and therefore a magnet for migrants, has recently banned mopeds and motorbikes, supposedly-

To reduce congestion and crime but in reality to discourage job-seeking incomers. Neither objective, it seems, is likely to be achieved. A greater folly, however, can be seen in those Chinese cities that are responding to clogged roads by building carriageways one above the other.

Such places would do better to emulate Seoul, whose last mayor tore down an elevated freeway in the middle of the city and thus restored to view a long buried river seen by the locals as a source of spiritual life. 

Cities can be great levellers, congested streets and immobile trains, hit rich and poor alike. And will always do.

The Honour and Serving of the  " Environmental Operational Research"  will continue. And !WOW! will continue to write regularly on this very important subject.

With respectful dedication to all the Students, Professors and Teachers involved in City Planning/Urban planning. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Green Exercise "'

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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