n Africa Insight - 'Trains are sexy, buses are not'
Mega-project mythology and South Africa's Gautrain

Volume 38, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The train - concrete, sexy, transport of intimate memories and powerful ideas - provides a solid basis for political support. Technologies with negative symbolic connotations cannot do that. Neither can complex, abstract ideas that would reformulate the way transportation systems as a whole are organised. The reduction of complex problems to simple ones is a natural function of the mind : not only does it appear to clear away ambiguity, but it creates 'solutions' which are attainable. The problems of freeway congestion cannot be eliminated overnight; but a rail system, symbolic of free-flow, can indeed be installed.

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