Re: AltInst: Road tolls would centralize cities

From: <>
Date: Fri Sep 04 1998 - 12:21:20 PDT

In a message dated 9/3/98 9:03:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< Yes, expanding mass transit probably is the best solution. How did Hong
 Kong develop its mass transportation system? Here in the US, it seems
 impossible for municipalities to obtain adequate funding for mass
 transportation solutions. Why is this? >>

Hong Kong has been steadily developing its mass transit over the last 20
years. The major aspect of its policy has been a clean modern subway system,
on which construction began in the 1970's. One is impressed by the lack of
graffiti and clean floors. There are even banks in spacious below ground
terminals. Machines dispense electronic travel tickets which you insert into a
turnstile for both entry and exit, your trip being decrement from the trips
remaining on the ticket.

There are first class and coach subway cars to encourage those who would only
prefer to ride in comfort, such as tourists. The trains are also air
conditioned and quiet. There is no fear of personal safety. So I would say
that the condition for success is quality and efficiency of service. Since
everyone relies on mass transit and the per trip fares are not prohibitive,
mass transit pays for itself in the long run.

Urban planning tends to concentrate people in high rise housing complexes
scattered around the countryside, near rail depots. The terminus is a huge
enclosed multilevel mall where a lot of daily activity takes place. They are
so safe, school kids wearing uniforms are seen everywhere.

As you move along a people walker one story high through downtown Hong Kong,
you pass restaurants and shops along the way. There is an added emphasis on
walking here. You have a choice of whether to walk and move through the city
or take a bus. This helps promote tourism and local business. Stores and
public buildings are linked together so you can still walk through the city
without getting wet by the rain. There is also no competition with bus and
taxi traffic. Compare this with the fights between pedestrians and cars in

The Hong Kong government also has a special department, with a flower logo, to
ensure the cleanliness and efficiency of all city services. They make sure
that waste disposal bins are placed all over and cleaned on time, etc. These
organizations are run mostly by high paid career women who are real sticklers
for catching mistakes. Running the city well is their life and they are proud
of their jobs.

The buses in Hong Kong are very modern and clean. Commuters use electronic
passes to save time entering the bus. You drop your money in a little box and
no change is given, so you have to count your money ahead of time before
entering the bus. You can pay more of course. People get on and off quickly.

There are very few private cars because there is no place to park. You have to
have to be able to afford a driver for your Mercedes, as well as the Mercedes.
Of course the rich do have cars. Expensive apartment buildings on the island
have parking garages underneath, but many well to do residents still do not
own autos.

Why waste space building parking garages all over when anyone can take a taxi.
There are stalls to line people up to get a taxi, avoiding chaos? There are
also prohibitions against bicycles on many roads to encourage mass transit (to
avoid the congestion the bicycles cause in other Chinese cities).

So, in order to build an effective mass transit system, it has to be thought
of as the primary means of transportation within the city. This increases the
ridership making the system obviously profitable and cost effective.

The difficulty of establishing mass transit in US cities is obviously the over
accommodation of the private automobile. Most American cities would need
better subway systems and
more buses. You really have to create practical alternatives for commuters.
Large cities in the US obviously need Monorail or train systems down the
middle of freeways, with enclosed people mover ramps to get people on and off.

Hong Kong supplements its city buses with private mini buses. These provide
the middle ground between buses and taxis. There are also ferries and tunnels,
and modern hydrofoils to go to Macao. So we would need a variety of transport
means, letting the
market supplement centralized means of transportation.

Also, the new airport system allows you to check in your baggage before
entering a special train to take you to the airport. There is obviously a lot
of good city planning all focused on moving millions of people around very
quickly. There is no substitute for good city planning, planning which
retrofits modern technology to preserve the traditional character of the city.

Even China is rapidly developing its mass transportation system, and will be
ahead of the US here soon. China will largely bypass the private automobile.

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Received on Fri Sep 4 19:43:02 1998

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