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Odd thing in Atlanta paper.

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  • Ronald Dawson
    I thought those on the list would find this odd ball interesting. Dawson http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/epaper/editions/wednesday/opinion_
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2000
      I thought those on the list would find this odd ball interesting. Dawson

      Journal: MASS TRANSIT:
      A tale of two cities'
      Christian Gerondeau - Special
      Wednesday, November 1, 2000

      Paris --- Obviously, the capital of the
      South --- Atlanta --- and the French capital
      are two
      very different cities. But that does not mean
      their citizens behave so differently when it
      comes to
      their travel choices.

      Similar to the distribution of population
      Atlanta and its outlying communities, central
      is home to only 2 million of the region's 11
      inhabitants. The rest live in Paris' suburbs or

      The downtown Parisiens are lucky enough to have
      their disposal the best possible "Metro"
      network with
      14 lines and more than 250 stations, which
      that almost no one lives more than 400 yards
      from one. It is no surprise that central-city
      use their Metro heavily.

      Nevertheless, even in central Paris, the
      plays a significant role. On the 20-mile-long
      belt freeway, called Boulevard Peripherique,
      traffic is
      extremely heavy, with almost 2 million
      using it everyday, not counting vans and
      trucks. In
      central Paris, public and private transports
      are more
      or less balanced.

      But in the outlying area, where the majority of
      the population resides, the
      automobile is the usual travel mode. Two or
      three cars per household are
      becoming the rule. As in Atlanta, the car is
      used for dropping children at
      school, going to work, visiting friends, and
      going to the sport club, the
      supermarket, and so on. And these people rarely
      go into what Atlantans would
      call "downtown," or in our case, central Paris.

      Transportation surveys from 1991 to 1997 show
      that the number of car trips in
      the Paris region increased from 14.4 million to
      17 million. The number of transit
      trips (train, metro, and bus) has remained the
      same at 6.7 million. Paris is the
      densest region in Europe, yet the automobile
      now accounts for 70 percent of
      daily trips, and public transportation accounts
      for less than 30 percent.

      Another point that deserves to be underlined is
      that this strong increase in the
      volume of traffic has not created more
      congestion. The Paris region is
      criss-crossed by a freeway network of about 500
      miles. It is adding a
      state-of-the-art underground highway. With this
      needed emphasis on roads,
      congestion has not gotten worse. In fact, daily
      average trip travel time by car
      has decreased from 22 to 19 minutes between
      1991 and 1997.

      Because of its ability to bring you from your
      starting point to your destination
      without having to walk, wait, or change
      vehicles, the car saves time. In the
      Paris suburbs, it usually saves you more than
      half an hour per trip, compared
      with public transport, despite the existence of
      perhaps the best public
      transport network in the world.

      In central Paris, movement by car also saves
      time, but not as significantly as
      in other parts of the region. Central city
      residents often choose public transport
      because parking is difficult to find and too

      In French provincial cities and the Paris
      suburbs, the only ones who use public
      transport are those who don't have another

      As in many European countries, the official
      public policy in France is to reduce
      the use of car. The car is considered as a
      nuisance, even if almost every one
      chooses it whenever possible.

      Residents of the European countries rightly
      consider their leaders to be
      clueless about the population's preferences,
      which certainly includes the
      automobile. Planners here and abroad need to
      get in touch with the real world
      and the free choices of citizens, and stop
      focusing public policy on unrealistic

      Christian Gerondeau is the author of the Paris
      Area Railway Master Plan, was
      a transportation adviser to the French
      government in the 1970s and wrote the
      1997 book "Transport in Europe." The Journal
      invited Gerondeau to comment
      on his experience with mass transit in light of
      Atlanta's newly adopted
      transportation plan that heavily focuses on
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