Issues in the Developing World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 7: Transformation of Urban Public Transport Systems in the Global South
P. Wilkinson, A. Golub, R. Behrens, P. Salazar Ferro and H. Schalekamp Introduction Over the past four decades, heightened rates of urban–rural migration have exploded the sizes of urban centres of developing countries. Many developing country cities experience population growth rates above 6 per cent per annum, and it is expected that by 2030 the urban population of the developing world will roughly double to around four billion (Gwilliam, 2002). These high rates of growth place great pressures on public services and infrastructure to supply the growing populations with means to work, study, shop, and live. Dense urban cores, low incomes, and heavily concentrated employment, commerce and services make public transport systems essential elements of these urban areas. Lower-income and sprawling peripheral areas means that hundreds of millions of people endure long commutes on crowded trains and buses crawling through the typical morass of urban traffic congestion. At the same time, growing incomes and automobile ownership across the developing world have filled streets to their capacities, worsening urban mobility due to congestion and declining public transport levels of service (Gakenheimer, 1999). Vehicle ownership growth rates exceeding 10 per cent per annum are not uncommon (Gwilliam, 2002) and these growth rates are expected to remain high into the future. Figure 7.1 shows projected light duty vehicle ownership (excluding two-wheeled vehicles) in different regions around the world. In contrast with growing car ownership, urban infrastructure has not kept pace, leaving more and more automobile travellers in gridlock. Bangkok is a typical...
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