Can Asia junk cars for bicycles and buses?
Sprawling mega cities from Bangkok and Manila to Jakarta and New Delhi Must curb over reliance on the privately-owned car to decongestant increasingly clogged streets and create more livable cities.
But urbanizes, incessantly plaued by traffic jams, should be offered fast and efficient transport alternatives, bus, light rail, subway, bicycles to wean them away from their cars.
“Developing a mass transit system, with its effective use of space and lower per passenger pollution levels,” is a top priority option for the 21st century, says an Oxford University publication: World Resources 1996-97.
The caress urban poor rely on buses as their transport Choice because of affordable fares. Buses can carry as many as 80 passengers during peak hours. Yet, they take up space of no more than two cars.
In 1980, an estimated 600 million trips daily were made buses in developing world. This figure will double by year 2000, World Resources cautions.
“As long as buses run on the same congested streets as other vehicles, they will never be an attractive alternative for those who can afford a car, “the study says. It proposes the option of creating a dedicated bus lane” to increase bus ridership. Such a lane “can move twice as many people per hour as buses operating in mixed traffic and 40 times as many people per hour as cars.”
This system of combining exclusive bus lanes and high-speed network already has a track record of considerable success in: Curitiba, Brazil; Abidjan in cote d’Ivoire; plus, Ottawa and Ontario in Canada. These have proved flexible in serving low to medium density urban areas.
But bus services in Asia’s metropolises fall far from this standard. Unconformable and unreliable in Asia. They also tend to be noisy and polluting.
World Resources insists on regular maintenance to help improve their safety and reduce emissions.
In dense Asian cities like Manila, the light rail transit has become another increasingly attractive and viable transport alternative to city residents. Bangkok’s LRT is nearing completion.
Terms and trolleys can move more people 6,000 per hour in mixed traffic and up to 36,000 people per hour with five or six car trains. They consume fearless energy and emit fewer pollution.
Subways can also decongestant crammed city streets. They promise high mobility and can be built under valuable urban land and are less polluting.
“Subways are not for sleeping” Construction operating and maintenance costs are heavy about $40 million per kilometer in Santiago, Chile, $64 million in Osaka, Japan and $ 117 million in Caracas, Venezuela. In comparison, a surface light rail system in Tunis, Tunisia cost only $29 million per kilometer.
“Cities should resist temptations to per sure flashy advanced technology solutions when lower cost approaches such as buses might be adequate” the study says.
Existing public transit service can be upgraded. Bus service could be privatized and deregulated. In SriLanka, deregulation allowed bus owners to compete with the public bus company substantially improving service coverage and quality.
Informal transit services such as the jeepney in Manila, the kabus-kabus in Lagos, Nigeria and dolmus minibuses in Ankara, Turkey should be integrated into existing transport system since they cater to the urban poor, World Resources adds. Their trips are more frequent. And their small size allows them to maneuver through narrow, winding streets.
“Bicycling and walking” the study notes, “are often the only means of transportation available to the poor in many urban areas particularly in Asia.” More than half of the world’s 800 million bicycles are estimated to be in Asia. China, where 50 to 80% of urban trips are by bicycles, has more than 300 million.
Bicycles can boost public transport services by linking outlying settlements with public transit routes.
Thousands of bicycles parked outside train stops are common sight in Beijing and New Delhi.
Governments need actively promote bicycle commuting by offering subsidies to those cycling to work and allocating extensive and separate urban street space to bicycle traffic. In Havana, Cuba bicycles helped reduce car traffic by 35% and bus traffic by 50%, world Resources notes.
Where urban populations grow rapidly, demand for transportation skyrockets. And cities need to reexamine urban transportation demand and devise new strategies that provide maximum access at a minimum total, cost study concludes.