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Why Public Railway Systems Are the Future of Megacities

Tokyo. Los Angeles. Paris. These aren’t just cities from developed countries. They’re megacities.

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations defines a megacity as an urban area with a population of more than ten million people. A 2018 UN report revealed that the world has 33 megacities. This figure is still increasing. The same report projected that 68 per cent of the global population will be urban by 2050.

Huge cities looking to improve their transportation infrastructure should transition from driving private vehicles to riding public railways. Cities that refuse to adapt and stick with cars are likely to suffer consequences, such as road congestion and high levels of air pollution. The future of transport, therefore, will need to shift from cars to mass rapid transit systems, such as trains and subways.

Here are seven reasons public rails will become the future transportation of a megacity’s inhabitants:

Ease of Payment

Paying to use public railways is easy. Some railway operators accept multiple payment options to make commuting accessible for everyone.

Singapore’s SMRT trains, for instance, has multiple payment schemes for locals and tourists. Apart from purchasing a standard ticket using cash, commuters can use stored value cards like Nets FlashPay Card to pay for their trips. Short-term visitors can also get a Singapore Tourist Pass, which provides unlimited travel for a fixed number of days.

Better Traveling Experience

Public railways, when digitally integrated, can deliver highly useful travel information to commuters. Train operators, for instance, can come up with a mobility app that publishes real-time information on connections and on-demand transport options. Trains that use digital technology will help megacity inhabitants plan their commutes effectively.

Urban dwellers will likely appreciate this move if implemented properly. According to research from Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, 92 per cent of motorists are willing to take public transportation — on the condition that it gives them access to solutions that make travelling enjoyable and useful.

Reduced Traffic Congestion


Traffic congestion is incredibly costly for countries. Cities in the United States, for instance, lose billions of dollars annually due to gridlock. New York, a megacity, suffered $11 billion in losses due to traffic congestion.

City dwellers won’t have to live with incredibly congested freeways and roads when public railways become the primary method of transportation. Trains can carry a lot more individuals in less space than private cars.

The decrease in traffic congestion offers many advantages. It minimises the likelihood of gridlocks, cuts down air pollution from vehicles stuck in traffic and alleviates traffic jam angst caused by driving to highly congested roads.

Environmentally Friendly Transportation Option

Private cars generate greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) from consuming fuel. These gases add to the problem of global warming.

Making the switch to rail could minimise the emission of greenhouse gases in cities. One report revealed that the CO2 emission of a one-passenger diesel car is 171 grams per kilometre travelled. Domestic railways, on the other hand, produce 41 grams per kilometre per passenger.

City dwellers conscious about the climate impact of their trips can travel by train instead of driving a car or booking a flight.

The Opportunity to Work on the Go

Another benefit of taking the train is that people can become productive and get work done while they’re travelling to their destination. This isn’t something that vehicle owners can do by car.

How is getting work done possible on a public railway? Some train operators provide free Wi-Fi access to passengers. This allows individuals to mentally prepare for a company meeting, get ready for a test or catch up on work before arriving at the office.

Amplified Freedom and Mobility

Not everyone in a city knows how to drive. Non-drivers, such as children and people with disabilities, have to contend with car-dominated areas where they need to rely on others to get from Point A to Point B.

This does not have to be the case when a megacity prioritises public transit. The availability of train travel improves everyone’s mobility. It lets people go to various locations within the megacity easily. People won’t have to hail a cab or persuade another person to drive them to school, work and other places.

Cost-effective Option

Getting and maintaining a private vehicle is expensive. Car owners have to think about various expenses, such as auto loans, insurance, maintenance and fuel. City inhabitants won’t have to worry about these expenses when they switch to using public railways.

Investing in an efficient and effective railway system is something that every megacity should do. Commuters have a lot to gain when they use public trains to travel to areas quickly and conveniently.


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