The performance and impact of rail mass transit in developing countries. Research Report 278.
Many Third World cities have recently built metros, usually encouraged by manufacturers and their governments, but frowned on - because of their enormous cost - by many transport planners and aid agencies. How have these metros performed? Were they justified in either financial or economic terms? Should more cities be planning to do likewise, or are metros really a
luxury that poor cities should forgo?
With urban growth and traffic congestion continuing unabated in much of the Third World, it is important to understand the conflicting claims for and against metro investment. This report presents the findings of a world-wide study involving observations and data collected in 21 developing cities, and the analysis of that data using a strategic transport evaluation model. It
explores the hopes expressed for metros, and the reality - particularly the common misconception that they will 'cure' traffic congestion.
The report concludes that while there is much to praise in the engineering and operation of Third World metros, much criticism can justifiably be
levelled at their planning and financial management. Few, if any, of them can be financially viable, but can give good economic returns in the right conditions. The study has produced a checklist of guidelines on these
conditions which, although far from universal rules, provide a useful first screening on the likely success of a particular metro investment.