World's Most Congested Cities
World's Most Congested Cities
Robert Malone, 12.21.06, 6:00 AM ET - http://www.forbes.com/business/energy/2006/12/20/worlds-most-congested-cities-biz-energy-cx_rm_1221congested.html
In Pictures: World's Most Crowded Cities
Having the worst traffic can mean the worst accidents, worst pollution, worst crowding, worst commutes and a host of other ugly conditions and experiences.
The list of the worst world cities for traffic is skewed by the growing impact of transportation revolutions in developing countries. It takes time to build a road infrastructure. It takes time to install and maintain a traffic system. Traffic lights have to be coordinated and their power source has to have redundancy. It takes time to train and educate drivers.
The list of the world's most congested cities centers on many Asian and a few African and Latin American cities that for the most part are playing catch up or trying to. For the moment, at least, their growth is defeating them. Moreover, "traffic is only one of the side effects of growth," says Roy Barnes, the author and former Georgia governor, who had to contend with his own problems of congestion and growth.
The inner cities in developing countries normally don’t have underground transportation, and that means street traffic, and that means congestion. Even the presence of a new subway as in Cairo has not really relieved the pressure of ever more vehicles on Cairo’s roads.
Cities with the highest density of population per square kilometer are the logical candidates for becoming the most congested, because congestion increases as the growth in their wealth increases the number of cars versus the less expensive alternatives of bicycles, motor scooters or motorcycles. Cars take up more room whether they are in motion or when parked--if they can be parked. U.S. and European cities have often chosen to place garages in new buildings, while older non-industrialized cities often lack such amenities. Cars may therefore be parked everywhere, legally or illegally.
The cities with the highest level of population congestion are:
· Manila, the Philippines;
· Cairo, Egypt;
· Lagos, Nigeria;
· Macau, off the Chinese coast;
· Seoul, South Korea;
· Dhaka, Bangladesh;
· Buenos Aires, Argentina;
· Jakarta, Indonesia;
· Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Santo Domingo,
· the Dominican Republic.
To drive a car in any of them might be the ultimate challenge.
Well over 50 million cars are being manufactured in the world each year, and they have to go someplace. There are over 240 million vehicles in the U.S. alone, while the world estimate is over 750 million vehicles and counting. The tilt is toward more vehicles for those places least able to cope with them. It is estimated that by 2030 the number of vehicles in the world will double.
These cities have priorities, but the priorities rarely include building new roads or repairing old roads. The investment that's required also includes elements that go far beyond digging, filling and paving. There is a political nightmare that involves the need for land to build the road and a buy-in from the government, local despots and citizens. Making a better commute can get lost in the shuffle of appeasing or greasing each of these individuals or groups.
The last word is from an expert musing over Los Angles--a candidate for congestion if there ever was one. "If they'd lower the taxes and get rid of the smog and clean up the traffic mess, I really believe I'd settle here until the next earthquake," said Groucho Marx.