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Showing posts from May, 2008

Kuala Lumpur proposes congestion pricing ... again

Traffic on Kuala Lumpur's Federal Highway

I wrote before about the chicken-and-egg issues of road pricing and improvements to public transport.

I mentioned Kuala Lumpur's long history of regularly proposing travel demand management (TDM) and but then forever putting it off, while waiting for the public transport system to be 'complete'. As I said in that earlier post, they are still waiting.

Well, right on cue, here we go again! This is from Malaysia's New Straits Times:
Area road pricing proposed for KL cityBy Azira Shaharuddin2008/05/28
Motorists may soon have to dig deeper into their wallets to enter and move within the Kuala Lumpur city centre. If what is proposed in the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 is approved, motorists entering busy and usually congested roads will be charged a ‘user fee’ as part of an area road-pricing (ARP) scheme. Under the scheme, motorists would have to pay varying prices during set operation periods each time they pass certain en…

A Bright Future for Carsharing?

Carsharing is quietly growing and expanding to ever more cities. But will carsharing ever become mainstream?

Dave Brook at the US Carsharing blog recently outlined an optimistic vision for the future of car-sharing.

A Flexcar promotion in Seattle in 2007 (Flexcar is now part of Zipcar).
Image by Joe Mabel on Wikimedia Commons.

His scenario may not be quite as 'visionary' as Chris Bradshaw's ideas, which I have mentioned before, but is well worth a look. The comments discussion is also enlightening.

As you would expect, his focus is on American conditions.

Here are some highlights:
Carsharing will be in the suburbs, as well, and not just around transit hubs and regional centers where higher density mixed used development can support carsharing. ...

Car owners will be able to make their cars available to the carsharing members for a few days at a time and share the revenues with the service. ...

Carsharing will team up with public transit agencies, including a newly-invigorated A…

More on public opinion of Delhi's BRT

[Update 31 May: CSE's Down to Earth magazine has a Cover Story on Delhi's BRT and in support of BRT in general.]


This is a short update to my earlier post on public opinion about the Delhi BRT project

The City Fix blog reports on another survey conducted in the relevant corridor between April 30 to May 5, 2008. City Fix also links to a pdf report on the survey.
EMBARQ's graphical summary of the key survey findings, as reported by CSE.

The survey also found little support for scrapping the corridor.

The survey was done by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) jointly with Delhi Greens and the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN).

I remain intensely curious to see a careful evaluation of this project. Whatever the results of such an evaluation, it does seem clear that much of India's media have misrepresented public opinion of the BRT in Delhi.

(By the way, this is not a BRT blog or a Delhi blog! But Delhi's BRT has been a hot topic lately. Here are some of my ea…

Bicycle sharing easing parking problems in Japan - BICYCLE parking problems!

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  
Try Reinventing Parking.]

Shibuya in Tokyo. 'Bicycle pollution'?
You may be familiar with the argument that car-sharing helps reduce pressure on parking space.

You may also be aware of the meteoric rise of interest in bicycle sharing schemes, with Barcelona's Bicing and Paris' Velib the most famous.

This article from Japan connects bicycle sharing, which is on the rise there too, with parking issues. But the parking problems addressed are with BICYCLE parking not car parking.
Cycle-sharing schemes reduce parking violations, raise profits The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 19, 2008) OSAKA--While bicycle-sharing schemes are becoming common in urban areas as more importance is placed on the environmental and health benefits of cycling, such schemes are also seen as an effective countermeasure for the illegal parking of bicycles.
At a condominium in Konohana Ward, Osaka, which was completed in October, each of the 220 families livin…

Is the Delhi BRT popular?

Could it really be that the Delhi BRT pilot is actually popular?

You would certainly not know it from reading the Times of India.

However, an early survey (reported in early May) suggested that even in its supposedly disastrous first week, the system had a very high approval rating among key groups - bus users and bus drivers. Even car users didn't dislike it in such huge numbers as certain newspapers have implied or assumed.

This report on an opinion poll by NDTV is a bit out of date and by now the unrelenting bad press may have swayed opinion against the system. But I want to highlight its stark contrast with the highly negative impression presented by much of the media.

BRT corridor: The great Delhi divide
NDTV Correspondent
Thursday, May 1, 2008 (New Delhi)

It's one of the most controversial infrastructure projects in the country but for all those who said that the Delhi Bus Corridor system was an out and out failure, here is a reality check.

A poll conducted by NDTV shows that t…

Car ownership in Japan: Over the Hill?

Who needs a car?

I take statistics like this with a grain of salt, but apparently Japan's population of cars and motorcycles has just followed the human population by declining for the first time since records have been kept.

Reports said that the February total was 0.2% lower than a year earlier. With more than 600 per 1000 people, there are still a lot of motor vehicles in Japan.

But it is interesting that this news came on the same day that Japan's economy was reported to be growing at a faster-than-expected rate.

This reminds me of reports in January that Nissan is worried about the declining Japanese interest in cars. This was put down in part to economic uncertainty and a rapidly ageing population. (here is another comment on that report)

Even more interestingly, Japan's young people in particular are apparently less interested in owning cars than recent generations.
A survey last year of 1,700 Japanese in their 20s and 30s by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's biggest…

Video cameras in buses for bus-lane enforcement

"Our road users lack discipline!" is a lament I hear often, especially in developing countries. For example, differing views over road-user discipline have played a big role in the problems of Delhi's BRT project (try googling Delhi BRT discipline).

Alas, respect for most traffic rules depends on consistent enforcement.

It would be nice if all traffic rules commanded so much respect that they did not need to be enforced. But unfortunately most important traffic rules fall outside our internal moral codes. Even the rules with serious safety implications, like speed limits, do not seem like an ethical issue to most people. So without enforcement, many people ignore traffic rules.

Singapore's bus lanes are no exception.

Singapore, for example, is finding the need to beef up its enforcement of its bus lanes. Bus lanes are actually not the toughest enforcement issue in urban transport but they are an important one, despite their humble image.

Soon, Singapore will join other …

High oil prices causing soul searching or pleas for relief?

High oil prices seem to be traumatizing societies that have become accustomed to cheap fuel. Some of the noisiest pain seems to be in the United States.

Pleas for relief have been a prominent response. But rising fuel prices are also prompting more interesting responses. Here I highlight a few from the North American blogosphere.

Robin Chase has some wise words at her Network Musings blog against subsidizing gasoline. She uses Indonesia as a cautionary tale.
As it stands now, we are already experiencing a gas tax holiday, every day of the year. Our gas taxes have 42% less buying power today than when established in 1993, which is why our road infrastructure is in such sorry state of disrepair. Imagine trying to keep your own life in good working order with 42% less buying power.

And indeed, filling up the gas tank is taking a significant bite out of the average family’s household budget, and is forcing difficult choices among those with the lowest incomes.

Is subsidizing the answer? It m…

Which comes first: traffic restraint or mass transit?

Jakarta's core corridor with both TDM and BRT.
Neither is perfect but both are steps in the right direction.
The green sign reads "zone for cars with three occupants or more"
and refers to the so-called Three-in-One policy.

Hundreds of growing cities across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America are motorizing rapidly. Unlike large Western or Japanese cities when cars first flooded them, today's developing cities are mostly facing this onslaught without the safety valve of a large pre-existing rail-based mass transit system. This makes traffic growth a huge challenge.

Most are trying to expand roads and to build mass transit but can't keep up with demand that is exploding. Meanwhile workhorse bus-based public transport deteriorates, due especially to traffic delays.

Slowing down the rate of traffic growth seems essential. But transport demand management (TDM) policies, such as congestion pricing or increased parking fees, tend to be difficult to sell politica…