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Open Access Publications from the University of California

PROCEEDINGS: Conference on Transportation in Developing Countries


Much of the developing world is experiencing rapid economic growth. Motor vehicle fleets in many megacities are doubling every seven years, creating a huge infrastructure backlog, escalating air quality problems, and imposing constraints on economic development. Besides rapid growth, the very context of transportation challenges is qualitatively different in the developing world. Leaded and unregulated fuels are a serious source of air pollution in cities like Bangkok, Lagos, and Jakarta. In Bombay, an estimated 50,000 squatters live within the rights-of-way of the city’s metro, forcing trains to crawl at under 5 km per hour in certain sections of the city. Excruciatingly slow train services have actually sparked riots among train passengers and the burning of train stations in protest. Heavy reliance on bicycle and other forms of non-motorized vehicles is another distinguishing feature of transportation in the developing world. In Tianjin, China, 80 percent of all commute trips are by non-motorized modes, mainly bicycles. While transportation management practices and technologies from advanced economies might find relevance in developing countries, the developed world can likewise learn much from economically less well-off places. For example, other parts of the world provide useful insights into such practices as price deregulation (e.g., Santiago), paratransit expansion (e.g., Mexico City), road pricing (e.g., Singapore), high-speed rail (e.g., Taiwan), build-operate-transfer projects (e.g., Hong Kong), creative infrastructure financing (e.g., betterment taxes in Bogota), and coordinated, integrated land development (e.g., land readjustment in Korea).

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