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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cheap, Decentralized Mass Transit

Via Michael Wilson on LeftLibertarian. An interesting story in Sierra about Curitiba, Brazil's experiments with a low tech and inexpensive rapid transit system: a streamlined network of privately owned bus lines. It's ten to twenty times cheaper than light rail and can actually operate without government subsidies to keep it going. It's also fast, efficient, and popular.


Blogger colorless green ideas said...

actually, it's a public/private partnership in the best sense--the public provides the infrastructure: the fancy boarding tubes that people pay to enter so there is no bottleneck entering the bus, they can then enter in the front , middle or back, and entrances are level with the bus so you don't need to walk up and down steps. finally, there are dedicated center lanes for unimpeded travel, and even express routes which are bus/tax/pasajera(jitneys) only, etc) . though i believe there is great flexibility in how routes are determined and assigned , it is a serious misinterpretation to call it a private system. (quothe m. wilson "Curitiba, Brazil's mass transit system is made up of about 10 privately owned
companies"). ahem, "10 privately owned companies" that contract with the city for exclusive rights to certain routes!

on the other hand, it is a great system, curitiba is a great city, and Jaime Lerner is a visionary, and it's the kind of thing that cities in the usa have tremendous political difficulty implementing (taking lanes away from cars?!?!). it seems so obvious; if a bus trip takes me 45 minutes, and a car takes 15 minutes, i'll go car everytime. if the bus is as fast or faster, i'll take the bus, and read a book/stare out the window/converse with a fellow passenger/etc.

January 14, 2006 12:36 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I think it could probably be done in a society where those rights of way were common rather than government property, though, and the up-front capital investments were voluntary.

January 14, 2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger colorless green ideas said...

sure, but getting that kind of society is the hard part. :)

January 14, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

...and part of getting that kind of society is to create more decentralized local alternatives to the state. :)

The "revolution" such as it is, is an emergent phenomenon going on everywhere, as you and I read and write this.
(so is the counter-revolution...)

January 15, 2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Ouranosaurus said...

Nifty! I especially like how the level entry system would make it easier for people in wheelchairs to get on. Currently, special buses have to be built that are lower than standard, which means a) big costs to convert bus fleets and/or b) some routes are not wheelchair accessible, period. It seems you could retrofit buses to make them accessible with this system, even if they hadn't been before.

Downside, I imagine it's difficult to attach a bike to one of these things with the tube-entry. I suppose local modifications could easily be made.

January 16, 2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger Sergio MĂ©ndez said...


Here in Bogotá we have a very similar experiment, but is not precisly decentralized. The company (called Transmilenio) is owned in part by many of the old bus companies that had transformed traffic into a mess, with the complicity of politicians they bribe in the city council. The rest belongs to a french company and the goverment.

January 17, 2006 6:03 AM  

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