February 3, 2014

Springfield comes to Mumbai: Monorail opens

From the NY Times: India’s 1st Monorail Opens in Mumbai to Much Fanfare and Doubt

The monorail, the first of its kind in India, has long been touted by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority as a high-tech solution to the city’s notorious traffic congestion. Yet transportation experts say that they wished the agency had talked to them before allocating 30 billion rupees, or $479 million, on a project that they contend won’t do much to unclog the streets….

Many transportation experts suggest that creating a bus rapid transport system would be a more cost-effective solution for urban India.

monorail-India-tmagArticle“Monorails are really not a proven technology in a high-density urban environment where the number of passengers is large,” said Amit Bhatt, the strategy head for urban transport at Embarq India, a nonprofit that works with governments to improve sustainable transportation.

On their own, the government agencies in India generally do not conduct a proper analysis of alternatives that consider cost effectiveness, Mr. Bhatt said. “What happens is that we have our preconceived notions about what the route requires, be it a monorail or a metro or a bus system, and then we work around it,” he said.

“Mostly what happens is a politician goes and sees a metro or monorail somewhere he says,‘I want this in my city.’ They see something that is working there and come back and say,‘This will work here also.’ ”

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