When Irritation Inhibits Progress

Jerusalem Light Rail Trains

» Jerusalem has delayed its tramway project repeatedly over the past several years, leaving much of the city center torn up, with no relief in sight. The situation has severely damaged support for further transportation projects in this congested metropolis.

After two days in Jerusalem, I’ve never seen a group of people so annoyed at the prospect of getting a brand-new light rail system.

You’d think that they’d be excited about traveling more quickly in comfort through what has become a notoriously congested city, bringing reliable commutes to a place whose citizens have only had access to buses up to now — despite a large and growing population. Light rail’s potential as a big development generator seems hard to resist, especially since some of the city’s close-in areas have suffered from increasing competition from other neighborhoods in retail sales.

But the corporate entity building and eventually planning to run the system has

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Qatar Signs Massive $25 Billion Deal with Germany’s DB to Develop Rail Network

» Rapidly growing Middle Eastern state will invest massively to expand already booming economy.

If Dubai and Abu Dhabi have grabbed most of the headlines recently, neighboring Qatar has been quietly building up from an out-of-the-way desert country to a center of world trade. Despite the country’s overall small 1.5 million-person population, the capital city Doha has been the site of increasing government-sponsored development thanks to huge oil and gas revenues and the country is now arguably the richest on the planet per capita. Next year, its economy is set to expand by 16%, the largest increase in the world, further solidifying its position as a regional powerhouse.

Government officials see infrastructure investment as a crucial element to economic viability, so last week Qatar signed a $25 billion deal with Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to develop local and high-speed rail links over the next fifteen years. The project will

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Johannesburg Fights Taxi Driver Opposition to BRT Project Necessary for 2010 World Cup

» Arguments over government’s involvement in transportation put into question the role of transit in cities dependent on taxis and private buses.

South Africa will host the continent’s first World Cup in 2010, and in preparation for the event, the city of Johannesburg has been rebuilding its transportation system with a focus on a new bus rapid transit network. But threats and shootings by members of the city’s strong taxi drivers union suggests that the project’s full implementation will not come easily. In a city that desperately needs alternatives to its traffic congestion, this kind of opposition is counter-productive.

Johannesburg, the country’s largest city with a population of almost four million, already offers commuter rail service in the form of Metrorail, which carries two million passengers daily. The Gautrain project, currently under construction, will eventually connect downtown Johannesburg with the capital in Pretoria and the international airport.

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Dubai Opens New Automatic Metro

» System provides new mobility in what has become the world’s densest unwalkable city.

Today, Dubai will open the first phase of its Red Line Metro, bringing the first advanced transit system to the United Arab Emirates. The 32-mile long project runs along Sheikh Zayed Road and parallel to the waterfront, connecting downtown with the city’s artificial palm-shaped islands and reaching most of the new skyscraper districts that have come to define Dubai’s look. Yet with the economic crisis, the legendary traffic and population growth that plagued the city until as recently as last year are nowhere to be found and, as a result, the Metro’s effectiveness won’t be clear until the next market upswing. But the design of the transit network and the city as a whole put into question whether anything can be done to tame Dubai’s notoriously unfriendly pedestrian environment.

The Metro project’s price increased rapidly during

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Lagos Light Rail Delayed by Cash Shortage

Two corridor project would attempt to restore traffic sanity to Nigeria’s largest city.

Lagos is a huge metropolis — projections put its population at somewhere between 10 and 20 million people — but it lacks an urban rail network. Rather, its citizens mostly rely on small private buses called Danfo or Molue to move about its heavily congested streets and highways. Last year, the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority opened the city’s first bus rapid transit line, which runs 22 km along mostly separated lanes. The project was constructed for $1.7 million per mile, carries approximately 200,000 passengers a day, and saves riders 25 minutes a trip compared to other travel options. But the large city needs other travel modes, and it has been developing a light rail plan, with completion due for 2012. Groundbreaking for the system, however, has yet to commence, putting its future in doubt.

The light

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

  • Le progrès ne vaut que s'il est partagé par tous.

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