Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marquez in the Moscow Metro

In a strange case of ideological intersections with perhaps a bit of time warp mixed in, the city of Moscow's metro has decorated its 'Poetry Car' with Gabriel Garcia's Marquez's poetry.
Colombia's ambassador to Russia Rafael
Amador amidst a crowd of Gabo fans.

Marquez only a little bit of poetry (mostly sappy romantic stuff) - just enough to decorate a single car, evidently.

The Leo Tolstoy Cultural Center in La Candelaria has a small photographic display about the rolling exhibition. It's appropriate, since the Cultural Center is something of a throw-back to the old Soviet Union, with its busts of communist icons and tomes and talk about socialism's victories. Appropriately, too, Marquez is a leftist and buddy of Fidel Castro, and the subway system construction was begun by Josef Stalin, albeit before most of the world had realized what a monstrer he was.

Today, of course, the Soviet Union is gone, as is communism, replaced by a savage capitalism. But the dream lives on in a few places, including the Leo Tolstoy Cultural Center.

Lenin in Moscow's metro. 
The subway exhibition provides an excuse to reflect on Bogotá's own plans to build a subway, which are now experiencing yet another resurgence.

With 12 lines, 306 kilometers of rails and 185 stations, Moscow's metro is a colossal achievement - and some of its stations, which are built like palaces, show that. I read that the Soviets' philosophy was to make it a sort of palace for the common people, in the place of the old Czarist palaces which the revolution had overthrown. That's good enough. Decorations aside, the Moscow Metro is also said to be the world's most densely-used metro.
A Moscow Metro station - an underground palace. 

But despite all of this, Moscow is a chaotic city full of traffic jams, as you can see here:

Moscow, with about 11 million people, isn't much bigger than Bogotá, altho they do have lots more money. Thos who believe that a subway would be a magic bullet for Bogotá's transit problems ought to look at Moscow and think again.

Stained glass in Moscow's Metro. 
If Bogotá does go ahead with subway construction, the first trains probably won't be rolling for another decade, at least, and then it'll be only a single line, measuring perhaps a dozen kilometers - a few percent of Moscow's system. But in the meantime, millions more cars will have flooded into the city.

Can anybody believe that, without strong measures to discourage car use, the traffic congestion and pollution above ground won't be many times worse?

Here's good advice from one of the video's commentators: "I say tax cars at every intersection and use the monies to build public transport systems."

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

city said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.