Using Johannesburg's unoffical transport system is an adventure in itself. Here's a beginner's guide
Carless in Johannesburg. It could be the title of a low-budget horror movie. A huge, sprawling greater metropolitan area of about 10 million people covering more than 600 square miles, the city is built for the car. If you're not in one, good luck – even though most drivers will be stuck in gridlock. I've been here for a few weeks and my main exposure to the city has been on foot. And I'm not alone. The overwhelming majority of Jo'burgers are carless.
Next month's World Cup in South Africa will bring a lot of attention to the country, and a lot of opportunity. Though many hope the country will see an economic benefit, the biggest impact is likely to be the creation of urban infrastructure.
In one month, the world's most popular sporting event will begin, drawing billions of spectators to screens all over the planet. In another month, it'll all be over.
Earlier this month, researchers performed a test run of a bus that basically drives itself. It follows a line of magnets embedded in the pavement, coursing exactly along its route and eventually to the bus stop. The tiny magnets on the bus and in the street guide the bus to the perfect parking position at the stop for picking up passengers. It's a cool idea, and a lot of transit agencies are interested. But there are wider applications.
Take, for example, my neighborhood, where nobody knows how to park.
If a bus can park itself at a bus stop automatically, why couldn't a car automatically park itself on a street? This magnet bus idea seems simple enough to translate. Let's examine:
Americans are furious about paying $4 a gallon, but the pump price in Britain is more than twice that. In California, lawmakers are considering a bill where drivers in car-happy Los Angeles County pay higher fees to fund public transportation projects.
NATE BERG: At more than four dollars a gallon, gas prices are already too high for many Angelinos. But a new bill moving its way through the state legislature could push that price up another nine cents. All that loose change would add up to create a county public transportation fund worth more than 400 million dollars a year.
Mr. MIKE FEUER (Democrat, California State Assembly): The status quo is not acceptable.
BERG: That's Mike Feuer a Democrat in the California state Assembly. He represents Los Angeles and is the author of the bill.
On the bus this morning I was handed a survey asking me to detail my satisfaction with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's public transit system. As a daily bus commuter, I was more than happy to spend my two cents, but I'm a bit skeptical that those two cents will really do anything.
The survey included 29 questions, mostly of the "Yes or No" variety. They asked about things like the relative safety of the bus, its timeliness, its quality, the courtesy of the driver, and other general questions about my personal preferences for and opinions of the system and its service.