Challenges of traffic development in Kabul City




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Following two decades of war (1980-2002) that destroyed the Kabul City, it started to rebuild its transportation infrastructures from scratch. Though the upgrading of the city transportation system was on the focus of Governmental institutions (Kabul Municipality, Kabul Traffic Office and the Ministry of Transportation) and international donors, the city inhabitants have been suffering from the lack of public transportation (public transit/mass transit) and negative effects of crowded (travel/reaching time) and costly transportation. They have been spending about 20 percent of their monthly income on transportation cost. Of course, the authorities try to solve the problem, but the lack of a scientific research and data make it difficult to reach a right decision. Therefore, the need for a scientific research on the city transportation system was strongly felt, and this paper is based on this research that is obviously supposed to answer the following questions: What transportation challenges does the city face? Where do the challenges come from? How to improve the transportation system?This strategy follows three steps. The first step considers the city structure, function and population, examines the existing city transportation system which includes technical/physical, organizational and administrative infrastructures and transportation demand. Establishing the scope and character of a new transportation system to meet the expected demand is covered by the second step. The third step studies the economic feasibility which is not included in this paper.A survey was done in 2009 to identify the characteristic and function of the city and its transportation demand. About 1100 roadside interview were conducted to gather information of transportation cost and modal split in the city. Besides, seven survey points were selected to estimate the peak hours and reaching time in the city. Moreover, the Kabul municipality, the Kabul Traffic Office and the Ministry of Transportation were frequently visited to collect the transportation data. The result of field work and studying of literatures and historical maps implies that the Kabul City is a bipolar model of Islamic cites with ancient and modern urban nuclei, where the former still has, according to the functional characteristic, a strong effect on the transportation system, where most of the municipal bus lines emanate from.The current transportation system has been by no means effective as it is very poor and cannot meet the needs of a public transit system (400 buses for 4.5 million inhabitances). Besides, the physical infrastructure (road network) is also in poor condition, as only 30 percent out of 1100 km planned roads are asphalted.The paper shows that among the various strategies the low cost strategy emphasizing on upgrading the existing infrastructures is an appropriate option for Kabul City. It is used for cities lacking adequate budget and financial support, focusing on improvement of public transportation system as the only most useful alternative to reduce the negative impacts of overloaded traffic.




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