Diversity Roundtable Opens Doors to Better Understanding of Transportation Worldwide

Insight into public transportation modes, practices and policies in nations and cities far beyond Chicago sparked spirited discussion between faculty researchers, staff and graduate research Diversity April 15 compressedassistants at the April 15 Diversity Brown Bag event hosted by the Urban Transportation Center.

During a roundtable discussion, participants shared these thoughts about transportation in their native country or home city.

  • Athens: Much new transportation infrastructure, such as light rail, was built for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in this ancient city. But planners working on new projects need to be concerned about preserving antiquities buried below grade level.
  • India: Bus and train transportation is prevalent in most parts of the country, and subway lines are only found in select cities. Fares are very inexpensive, and those images of Indians hanging on the outside of a bus or rail car are real. But most do so to be daring.
  • Tehran: In this sprawling capital city, most people commute by subway, bus and taxi. In the central business district, only government cars can travel during peak business hours.
  • China: Buses and subways are very affordable in the larger cities in China, where populations are growing and development is booming. But private auto ownership and use is growing, creating parking challenges. Sometimes, it will take a driver 60 minutes to find a parking space. Some residents in large cities making housing decisions based on the availability of transit.
  • Japan: The nation’s modern transit network was built relatively recently, making it very efficient. There is less of an income gap in Japan, and a growing number of young people are moving to cities for opportunities. The government, which has developed an extensive high speed rail network, builds new rail lines only to meet increased housing demands.
  • Chicago: The city has an extensive bus and rail network, but the neighborhoods south of the 95th Street terminal on the Red Line are not served well by public transit. This creates economic issues since many blue-collar jobs (manufacturing and steel production) are now gone; it’s difficult for far South Side residents to access the many jobs in and around O’Hare International Airport. The proposed Ashland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line many provide better travel options.

The Diversity Brown Bag series features guest speakers, often from the UIC community, who share insight on a topic related to diversity and transportation.