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Asiaweek
 > summer special 2000
For the year 2000

GOVERNANCE
The Best Government Reformer
How Asia Is Governed
The Best Local Administrator
The Best Activist


BUSINESS
The Best Dealmaker
The Best IPO
The Best Stock
The Best Advocate of Shareholder Rights
The Best Fund Manager
The Best Cost Cutter

LIFESTYLE
The Best Airport
The Best Hotel Service
The Best Hotel Gym
The Best Store
The Best Food

ENVIRONMENT
In Tune with Nature
The Best Forest Preserve
The Best City Park
The Best Transport
The Best Green Test
The Best Marine Preserve
The Best Marine Park

THE WIRED WORLD
The Hottest Video Game
The Hottest Gadget
The Hottest Portal
The Best Asian Websites

POP CULTURE
The Hottest Fad
The Hottest Toy
The Hottest TV Show
The Hottest Album
The Best Movie
The Best Short Film

 

Intro | Forest Preserve |  City Park | Transport | Marine Preserve |  Marine Park
The Best Transport

Nic Dunlop .
Bangkok's Skytrain, which finally opened last December after years of delay, has helped improve the city's notoriously congested traffic.

Elbow-bashing pedestrians, constant bumper-to-bumper traffic, hand-over-nose breathing. A familiar enough experience in Asia's crowded metropolises. That this is not a daily occurrence in capitals like Tokyo is due to one thing: mass rail transport. The rush-hour crush in the biggest Japanese cities, already a trying routine, might well resemble urban warfare but for their extensive subway systems (about 171 km in Tokyo and 115 km in Osaka). In Hong Kong, 2.5 million passengers use the clean and efficient MTR service every day. The air quality would certainly be a lot worse if the commuters turned to conventional buses. (Calculated on a per passenger journey basis, experts say, buses emit 100 times the level of respirable particles generated by mass rail.) Ditto for congestion.

Bangkok's new Skytrain, a mere 23-km system, is already credited with improving traffic by about 4%. Which is why cities around the region are investing in rail lines. Singapore is to extend its 83 km of mass-rail lines by another 20 km. In China, Beijing is adding 13.5 km to its existing system, compared to 23 km in Guangzhou and 27 km for Shanghai. Delhi is fast coming into line too. The Indian capital expects to have a 55-km network in place by 2005 — along with an astounding 50% reduction in air pollution.

Then there is Hong Kong's ambitious program to expand its rail links to 250 km by 2016 — a hefty $25 billion investment over 15 years. Still, it pays to make tracks. The benefits: about 600 tons less particle pollutants and 160,000 tons of greenhouse gases not emitted every year.

— Peggy Leung and Dan Woodley

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