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On transports.

Since last year, I’m able to legally drive a car anywhere, which is really good, except for the fact that I don’t (yet) own one. Ah, but being able to drive through the pitch-black wild streets at maximum permitted speed, changing lanes, listening to music on a moderate level, go pretty much anywhere and do almost anything possible, like driving across the whole country just for the sake of it!

The feeling of freedom that only a car can provide! It’s just so magical. I mean, look at it:

Ah, to drive, free of boundaries and limits!

Sounds really amazing and incredibly nice, no wonder people like to drive cars! Yeah, that feeling of being complete once again, you revving it up like there’s no tomorrow! Yeah…

That would be completely true, if not for the cold, hard, awful reality:

Regular traffic jam here in Rio.

Each month, more and more cars pour into the streets like our money into politicians’ pockets. With the ever-so rising price of fuel, taxes on cars, parking, car robbery, traffic congestion’s extension and road accidents, it becomes clear to most people that owning a car isn’t as nice as one might think. Travelling by cab isn’t the cheapest of ways (and prices gone up in here, recently), so that leaves us with but one choice: Public transports!

… Though they aren’t that nice too.

Just another day riding the train.

Currently, the company responsible for our trains does nothing but to fill our lives with joy by delaying trains, not buying new, decent ones and using old, old train wagons for our everyday transportation. Not to add that they’re a tad small if compared to what their dimensions should be. Oh, did I mention that they tend to, sometimes, be “surfed” by some people? Not the prettiest of sights when something goes wrong.

Such adrenaline! I feel compelled to do the same in a few!

Oh well, who cares about trains? We have subways, which move underground (so obscure!) and are a bit faster! Plus, all of them have air-conditioners, which means no more of that hideous, unfathomable heat! Subways are usually more comfy, have a better space distribution and also lead you to places some trains don’t, or just can’t!

… Or so I thought.

Ah, how exhilarating!

Subways face the same problems as trains, if not a bit worst, since, if something goes wrong, you’re stuck there. Underground. At least they’re actually faster, so that feeling of being an actual “tuna-in-a-can” lasts less than on a train. On the bright side, no surfers on the subway! … Unless they invent skating on subway tracks. Not that it’d be all that bad, you’d get bonus points for dodging a car!

And quadruple points if you pass over a skater as a subway conductor. Wouldn’t it be nice? Just like Carmageddon, but a tad different.

Now, change that car for a subway wagon and you have an instant best-seller!

I think I can still rely on buses… Sure, they got way more expensive over the years, its prices going up at rates higher than the train/subway ones! Still, it’s such a traditional method of transportation, how can anyone possibly forfeit on the use of something that can only be the salvation for our problems? I mean, it moves on roads, gets you really near most of your daily destinations and it has lots of seats for you to take!

… Right?

At least it can't get any worst than that!

Most buses, at least in here, not only delay, but are also attractive targets for muggers, tend to have their entrance price going up by the year, don’t receive the maintenance they should and bus workers are constantly going on strike due to their bad wages and work conditions. Not to mention that, while on a bus, you also get to deal with traffic congestion and the occasional rain problems, and not everyone who rides the bus tend to take proper care of themselves. Hygienically speaking, of course.

On a quick note: I can’t be the only one disliking this whole “bullet-train Rio-São Paulo-Campinas” thing, can I? Sure, benefits over plane travels, plus it’ll open ways for railways all across the country. If we had a reliable administrative system. And if we knew that the money spent on it could be used to improve overall public transportation by at least threefold, with the opening of more bus lines, better train/subway wagons and more railways/subways. Or, if you feel like it, why not just asphalt all the hundreds of kilometers that are a shame compared to roads worldwide?

Not the actual bullet train that'll be used here, but you get the point.

So, after all these public transportation examples (and a “slightly” irresponsible use of public money), what would be a nice alternative? Well, you’re right if you suggested a bicycle, or even walking. Granted, it’s not that safe in Rio, São Paulo or most cities around the world, but it’s usually the best option!

A good, healthy and usually entertaining way to travel around most places!

Sadly enough, streets aren’t what they used to be on major cities, add urbanization and verticalization to the formula and you get places where’s nearly impossible to walk without being run over or without getting into an accident. There aren’t enough cycling roads, at least not in Rio, though I’ve heard good things about the expansion of those in São Paulo. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before (re-)classifying these types of transports as actual, valid ones.

So, what could be a solution to all these problems? We can wonder about that with many, many theories or just think freely.

Shanghai, as most Asian cities, is ahead of our bulky way of doing things.

And no, I’m not saying “westerners are way behind their (rather, our*) time ha ha ha FOOLS!”. I’m saying that, while most of us worry about creating more and more transports, without caring for the place where they’ll run, thus giving birth to all sorts of practical problems, they just found a simple (and, logically speaking, inevitable) solution: Going up. Much like Venice (and some theories of Atlantis, if you believe in those), building over the “old town” is nothing new or amazing, but it works wonders.

Of course, that gives place to an even bigger economic-social disparity, with poor people usually staying down, and then we’ll have something similar to (at least on this topic) Demolition Man.

Technical aspects aside, it was a good movie.

Now, I’m not saying that we should take action about something now, because most of us are accommodated (sadly) with our living ways. Thing is, eventually, we (or the next generation, or the other one etc.) will have to do something about that. First, we need to solve most social problems before moving on to this. Because, I don’t know about you, but living in the sewers or under four intertwined freeways doesn’t sound that nice.

Unless they have wi-fi. Then, I’m game!

(I own none of the images above)

Remaining on a “better”, motionless Sunday,

Arthur Müller.

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