Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Friday, January 20, 2012

He's green until he's not

My fellow environmentalist and bicycling enthusiast Ken Avidor (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) is still trying to exercise his Luddite Veto on the Subcontinent (Amritsar, Punjab, India) -- all because the local authorities worked with an Indian consultant to select a transit system that is right for community needs.

Not surprisingly, those needs are like those in cities all over the world, and have been defined:
Indian cities are not maximizing the density influence to reduce the emissions. International research shows that the dense areas usually have fewer emissions. In India’s case, many cities which are dense are showing high emissions because of insufficient public transport and high influx of private vehicles.

...Then again, why do cities like Bhopal and Amritsar have higher per capita emissions than Chandigarh? Why do cities like Hyderabad and Jaipur have high travel activity than a city like Kolkata? The Indian cities analysis shows that having public transport facilities (e.g., Mumbai and Kolkata) and land-use transport integration (e.g., Chandigarh) can not only better transport be provided but also emissions and economic activity can be decoupled.

This is the lack of transit investments problem.

Two And Three Wheelers in India reported Amritsar had 9,903 auto rickshaws, which is 913 per 100,000 population. It's the third-highest in the whole country (iTrans, New Delhi, June 2009).  This is the local point-emissions problem.

Amritsar is also a city where streets are dominated by, in addition to auto rickshaws, pedicabs and other types of paratransit. All together they constitute a 94% mode share of all passenger travel in the city (Arora, A., Jawed, F. and Jarnhammar, M., Green and Pro-Poor? The Case of Informal Transport in India, 2010). This is the congestion problem.

Furthermore, the community is acting to ban vehicular traffic from the area of the 18th Century Golden Temple, in order to protect the historic structure's marble and gold walls from exhaust fumes.  This is the pollution/emissions and historic preservation problem.

An electric mass transit system is what the local authorities have decided should be a step in addressing these problems, and they have chosen pod transit. There is too much congestion for expanded bus transit, which would also mean emissions, and there is not enough right of way for rail.

But Ken Avidor doesn't care about letting Amritsar make their own decisions. This is what he says:
...there are other, less expensive ways to go from the train station to the city's main attraction:
An auto-rickshaw from the train station to the temple should cost around Rs 20, while a cycle-rickshaw will run about Rs 30.

There is a free bus service from the train station to the golden temple run by Golden Temple trust.

Ken wants Amritsar to maintain its dependence on rickshaws and buses -- he doesn't care if they have congestion and emissions. And in his PRT Moondoggie blog he uses it as an excuse to write -- yet again -- about the Cincinnati "Skyloop," which he continues to think was an actual PRT project rather than a technology screening and study that was part of an official public planning process.

Avidor also takes the opportunity to imply Skyloop (which, again, did not go past the 2001 study phase) is to blame for the current lack of progress in Cincinnati installing streetcars. Apparently electric transit is OK for America, not Amritsar.

It's a new chapter in an old, old story -- Ken (white American) thinks he knows what's better for the (multiethnic) people of Amritsar than their own democratically elected officials and highly educated planners.

So maybe he thinks Amritsar is in Indiana.



2. Another Luddite Veto (2011)

3. Short & Stout! (2010)

gPRT Policy analysis beats art college YET AGAIN!

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