A recent article on the Huffington Post considers the challenge of improving commutes in the face of rapid urbanization in low and middle income countries. The author, Harry Bradford, spoke to the Urbanization Project's Alain Bertaud:
As cities continue growing worldwide, commuters face a two-fold problem. Not only will the global urban population nearly double by 2050 to 6.2 billion, but during that time cities will expand over land faster than they gain people, creating only more ground for commuters to cover. The majority of the city growth will happen in developing countries, but even the already densely populated New York City is estimated to add 1 million residents by 2040.And you thought the L train was bad now.So what's to be done? Alain Bertaud, now a senior research scholar at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project and former principal urban planner at the World Bank, told The Huffington Post that sadly an ideal commuting system seldom fits seamlessly with urban expansion."Cities have to consume a certain amount of land and citizens decide that," he said. "It's the transport system that has to adapt to the structure of the city. Do not expect the city to adapt to your transport system."But there is hope. While Bertaud's peers generally approach the problem as a question of managing car use or growing public transit, new technology may provide better solutions. Google's self-driving car and Toyota's "personal mobility" i-Road tricycles, for example, could reduce congestion on highways. Used in conjunction with public transit, commuters might have a better shot at faster and more reliable transportation that can cover the great expanses of our ever-growing cities.