Publication Detail

Caracas Metro: A Luxury?


Journal Article

Suggested Citation:
Sperling, Daniel (1981) Caracas Metro: A Luxury?. Transportation Research Record (797), 27 - 31

Concentration of population is increasing in less developed countries, bringing with it paralyzing traffic congestion. Many cities have responded by designing and constructing expensive rail rapid transit systems. One of those cities is Caracas, Venezuela. In many ways Caracas approximates the ideal city for fixed-rail rapid transit: Linear land use patterns, rapid growth, lack of expansion space, and excessive congestion all seem to reinforce that observation. In this paper, the rationale for the Metro is explored as to its validity in terms of urban form, costs, benefits, and possible alternatives. Metro's route layout will best serve the more affluent and not the poor, accessibility to jobs will not be increased significantly, and Metro's design conflicts with the city's more recently articulated objectives of spatial and economic decentralization. Concerns for rational planning and judicious public spending were shunted aside, and the notion of a prestigious public work and availability of easy financing was allowed to dictate the decision to construct. Commitments to inflexible and costly underground rail systems, especially in countries of the Third World, may not be advisable in many cases. Many low-cost and moderate-cost strategies could provide equivalent or greater benefits at much lower cost. Strategies for expanding transportation opportunities and efficiencies could benefit from greater imagination, expertise, and political will.