Thursday, February 6, 2014

Subway systems of Rio and Shanghai 1993-2013

Alex Bellos points out to this striking comparison of the subway systems of Rio and Shanghai 20 years ago and today.

[image credit: ?]

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Anonymous said...

Besides the obvious: China makes plans, and executes them flawlessly (well except the occasional highway or high riser collapse). But the not-so-obvious lesson is that Democracy presents challenges. In China, people are notified that their area was selected for "development". They are given a certain amount of time to pack and leave (with set compensation of course). Then the area is bulldozed and takes the new shape quickly and efficiently. In Democracies, there's all this nuisance of "due process", committees, and sub-committees, votes, referendums, planning and approvals, budgeting, running a mandatory bid process to select the worst possible most expensive contractor for the project, yes, the one who commits to finish it in N years, but inevitable will finish in 2*N years (if ever). Democracy is overrated, but hey, it's good to be free!

Rafael H M Pereira said...

Thanks for the comment. I once heard someone saying: "Democracy is terrible, but it is still the best system that we have". I couldn't agree more.

Joe R said...

Hi Rafael. Interesting stuff here but I think the comparison going on in these images is a bit unfair. Substituting São Paulo in for Rio would have resulted in a fairer one, I think. Rio de Janeiro has many technical difficulties with implementing a below ground metro system. The geography there is a big problem with mountains to one side and sea to the other. The type of soil in-between the two would likely be composed of a lot of sand and soil and would pose serious difficulties for any tunneling and also for simpler cut-and-cover construction. The water table is likely to be high also, which would not help if that is the case. These technical differences need to be taken into consideration before the usual political, economic and cultural differences come into play. Don´t get me wrong though - I am not defending the Rio Municipal or State governments in any way.

Another interesting comparison, though it would be more interurban than urban, would be on high speed train lines (trem balas) . In this case it would be 10,000km to 0 km in favour of the Chinese!

Rafael H M Pereira said...

Hi Joe. You have some good points there, including the speed rail comparison :)

Anonymous said...

There are times for different political systems, subject to the particular stage of social, economic and political development. For a developing country like China, a degree of autocracy is necessary to yield the most benefits for most people. Full on democracy can wait when all have achieved middle class security or it's a hinderance and waste of hard earned money.