Submitted by: Andrew Welborn
I am excited as we travel to two very different countries to compare the many cultural differences. I thought a quick comparison of transit systems would be in order, as we will have the chance to experience some that outshine American systems and some that are downright scary. The U.S. is rapidly falling behind other countries in regards to a transit system and this has impacted our competitiveness in the manufacturing industry. The U.S. as a whole is a rather poor example of mass transit with the exception of a few localized areas around the country. China and India still require leaps and bounds to achieve effective transportation, but the decisions that they make now will affect the world in the near future. They have the opportunity to create truly efficient transport systems to connect the billions of people that make up each country. Here are two links for a quick rundown of the overall transportation systems in both China and India.
By now we should all know how involved the government in China is with infrastructure and growth. They have been building on a simply massive scale with little regard for the environment, but are now facing congestion in major cities due to the massive growth. They are continually implementing new projects for mass transportation that rival the technological prowess of the most advanced countries, but is this really what China needs to go forth as more and more people are increasing their disposable income and want the status symbol a car brings?
As Cece Reyes posted previously, India has a rapidly growing market in ultra low-priced cars. These vehicles would be a major upgrade to the scooters families use, but does India have the infrastructure necessary to accommodate another 500,000 vehicles per year from one manufacturer? Thomas Friedman doesn’t think so. Read link for his views on where India should be heading.
Other links about the future of India’s transportation system:
As both countries modernize their systems, a big question is where the capital will come from. In China the obvious answer will be from the government. However, in India that question is currently up for debate, and who pays for the system will have a big impact on what the system will be and how well it will function in the interest of the public.
Both countries are using a diverse mix of transportation systems, and both are seeing a growth in the ownership of cars. This may be all good and fine now, but in five years will this begin to stifle growth in urban areas as more and more cars travel in an already congested city? Not to mention the increased pollution and use of resources. On the flip side if the countries firmly embrace mass transit as they grow, will the populace begin to demand more personal vehicles and leave the mass transit systems unused? There is no easy answer, and a mix of systems would do the trick, but what mix would be best for each country?
My questions for you are: What are the complications that will need to be addressed in both countries to continue to progress their transit systems? What are the business implications of following the U.S. model versus mass transit? How do these major decisions on transportation systems affect the rest of the world from a resource view? There is the ideal solution from an environmental and conservationist perspective, but which direction do you see each country progressing in the near future and what role will business play?