Light rail and trams

14.11.07

The year of the metro

50 years of UITP Metro Division to be celebrated in Valencia


2007 is the ‘year of the metro’ for the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), with its Metro Division celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is the occasion not only to look back, but to take a snapshot of the world of metros today and to look forward to innovations in the sector.

“Metros continue to be an essential mobility tool for large cities, a role they have played since the late 19th century,” says Albert Busquets Blay, chair of UITP’s Metro Division. “Nowadays, no citizen living in a city with a metro could imagine life in his or her city without it, even if the project may have generated controversy at the beginning. With time, metros help cities find their shape and remain attractive for citizens and business. I am glad that today, after a period of skepticism when the prevailing opinion was that metros were too expensive and hardly any city could afford to build a new system or extend an existing one, many cities are active in planning and launching systems, including several in transition countries. Take for instance China, India or Algeria.”

To mark the anniversary year, UITP is collecting data, maps and illustrations to publish an up-to-date catalogue November of metro companies worldwide in. A special anniversary issue of UITP’s magazine, Public Transport International, will also be dedicated to metros at the end of the year.

To complete the ‘snapshot’ of the sector today, UITP has organised a metro photo contest. Member metro companies have been invited to submit a picture that captures the ‘heart and soul’ of metros in the 21st century. The winning was selected during an assembly meeting in Valencia.

Looking towards the future, UITP has also recently produced a comprehensive study and atlas of automated metros, or ‘unattended train operation’ (UTO). “We predict that, by 2020, 75% of all new metro lines will be designed for UTO, and that 40% of all lines undergoing refurbishment will be upgraded to UTO operation,” says Hans Rat, UITP secretary general. “In the coming three years alone, new UTO lines will start revenue operation in Lausanne, Nürnberg, Tokyo, Vancouver, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Helsinki, Budapest, Dubai and a number of Korean cities. This is clearly a hot issue for the sector.”

In 2006, metro networks carried some 155 million passengers per day, or about 34 times the average daily number of air passengers. Metro is the most efficient transport mode in terms of energy consumption and space occupancy. In order to transport 50,000 passengers per hour and direction, a metro needs a right-of-way measuring 9m in width, whereas a bus would require 35m, and cars 175m. One kEP (kg equivalent petrol) will allow a single person to travel more than 48km by metro or 38km by bus, but no more than 19km by car.

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