27 November 2013

Kunming’s new metro system is slowly but surely taking form. It’s unlikely it will have been worth the nuisance or the money.

Kunming Rail Logo
Kunming Rail Logo

There’s something to be said for metro systems. They’re clean, fast and almost entirely invisible from above the ground. For large yet space-strapped cities like New York or Hong Kong, they’re the only efficient public transport solution. In other cities, such as Berlin, there simply wasn’t any other mass transit technology available when it was built.

But for smaller and more modern towns with loads of space, like Kunming, the question arises whether a metro is the right solution. Is the Kunming Metro really a worth the pain? Or is it just another China mess, in which politicians vying recognition from Beijing ruin entire cities with prestige projects?