In the bursting-at-the-seams megacity of Cairo, it seems that there is no escaping the traffic. Roads grind to standstill for hours most days and the traffic jams are only getting worse as the Egyptian population simultaneously heads to Cairo every morning either to work or in search of a job. However, one organisation has decided that if there is no space on the road than the solution is take to the air and introduce the ‘Helicopter Taxi’.
Yep, you read right. According to Al-Arabiya, an Egyptian aviation company will be launching a flying taxi project as part of a plan to solve traffic problems in the city. Five turbo helicopters have already been purchased so that people can be flown around Egypt and Cairo whilst avoiding the traffic below. As well as plans for fire fighting and medical evacuation helicopters, these flying taxis will also be “affordable to all people” wishing for a stress-free (and let’s face it a more exciting) Monday morning commute. However, something’s not adding up.
Lots of Traffic + Helicopter Taxis= Lots of Traffic Still
Now, I’m no genius but how are helicopters which probably can’t seat more than a handful of people going to solve Cairo’s epic traffic problems? Even if there were fleets of helicopters (which can’t be very safe), how many people would they actually take off the road? Also, isn’t this totally avoiding the root of the problem which is a culture of car-dependency coupled with sub-standard public transport?
It seems that in our car-entrenched culture, any solution is viable as long is doesn’t threaten our dependency on cars. Helicopters? Yes! Less cars? Well, that’s far too far fetched for most people to even consider. Yet as fellow Green Prophet writer Karen Chernick states “Cairo, unfortunately, is almost synonymous with traffic congestion, and all those drivers want to get where they’re going – fast. But if there were less cars on the road (and fewer people riding alone in their cars), those drivers really could get where they wanted fast.”
Ignoring The Roots of the Traffic Problem: Cars
Less cars is clearly the most logical solution, as the Egyptians behind a recent carpoolers scheme state. Logic, it seems, has escaped some people who are willing to consider ‘helicopter taxis’ before the notion of reducing cars on the road. Not that the region isn’t feeling the effects of car dependency. In Iran, traffic fatalities are 5 times the world average at 22,000 deaths a year and Saudi Arabia has the highest rates of traffic accident fatalities in the world. In fact, the entire Gulf region seems to have a car problem as 12,000 people die there every year due to traffic accidents in the Gulf– that’s around 35 people dying every day.
Clearly, what the region really needs is more efficient and cheaper public transport so that people will seriously consider leaving their cars behind- not outlandish ‘solutions’ such as flying taxis which don’t even tackle the real problem.
:: Image via Dave Evers on Flickr.
:: Al Arabiya
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