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Transport Planning in Third World Cities.

Urban transportation planning was the "fair-haired child" of the 1970s, with high levels of federal funding and much scholarly research and discussion. During that period several books were written about the various aspects of urban transport in the industrialized nations of North America, Europe, and Asia. It seemed as if every transport planner and economist had something to say about the issues of mobility in our large cities.

However, all of that ended with the onset of the Reagan/Bush administrations, the elimination of much of the federal funding of urban transit systems, and the accompanying research effort. The debate over urban transport ended abruptly. Now we have to search for the occasional article on the subject, let alone a book.

Having just returned from Mexico City, and preparing to leave for Jakarta, Indonesia, I can attest to the fact that the problems of urban transportation for the developing countries have not disappeared. In fact, the urgency of finding solutions to these problems has never been greater. The migration from rural areas to cities in these nations continues unabated.

Many of these countries are rapidly emulating the "automobile" society that they see in the United States, but without any infrastructure or controls on pollution in many cases. The largest cities in the world are now in developing or newly industrialized nations. Cities like Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mexico City, Mexico, and Bombay, India, as well as hundreds of growing communities throughout the developing world, need assistance in handling their transportation problems.

The collection of articles in Dimitriou's book, Transport Planning in Third World Cities, reminds us that the problems of urban transport are still with us and that it is urgent that we address them now. It is an excellent survey of the differences between the problems that we knew in the 1970s in the industrialized world, and those of the developing world in the '80s. It addresses the issue of the formal transport sector in these countries, which is often government-owned and -operated, and the importance of the informal sector that can provide up to 60 or 70 percent of transport service in many of these nations.

The book does not claim to have the answer for the problems of all developing nations, but provides several approaches to solving those problems. For those who work in transportation development it is obvious that planning solutions must start with the grass roots organizations of the affected city and work up. Fast cures from developed countries are not the solution, the book emphasizes.

The book itself is divided into three major parts: The first part deals with the problems and issues in urban transport planning from a third-world development perspective. It has excellent articles dealing with transport and third-world city development, as well as identifying the inadequacies of urban public transport systems in these nations.

Part Two explores the deficiencies and developments in the theory and practice of urban transport planning as applied to the developing nations. The final part looks at the emerging alternatives in planning for urban transport, especially in cases where data is limited.

The articles are all well done and are based in real-world observations. The data provided, although now somewhat dated, should be of use to the reader. For anyone with a research interest in transport development, this book is a welcome addition to their reading list.
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Author:Dicer, Gary N.
Publication:Transportation Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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