Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bus revolution is way to the future (Taiwan Journal)

Now that cycling is back in fashion, bus travel has become perhaps the least glamorous form of short- to medium-distance transportation in Taiwan. This is unfortunate, and not only for the island's cash-strapped bus companies. If greenhouse-gas emissions from road vehicles are going to be significantly cut sooner rather than later, there will have to be a revolution in bus usage.

Mass rapid transit systems take too long to build - 20 years from conception to operation in Kaohsiung's case. And despite government subsidies and rising fuel prices, few alternative forms of transport to gas-burning cars, such as electric vehicles, can be seen on Taiwan's streets.

Outside of Taipei and a couple of other places, very few people take buses to work. They drive or ride. Those who commute by train tend to drive or ride to and from the train station. In this regard Taiwan is not very different from other industrialized countries. However, when it comes to getting these people to use buses rather than private vehicles, Taiwan does have some advantages...

To read the rest of this opinion piece, go here. Some of the ideas in it were inspired by George Monbiot's excellent book Heat: How We Can Stop The Planet Burning, others by what I've observed in Taiwan and other countries.

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