Perugia’s mini-metro

Perugia has a wonderful historic core.   Perched high above the surrounding valley,  medieval streets drape the hillside.  Cars choked the city throughout most of the 20th century.   The mini-metro was conceived as an answer to that.   Linking the center with a large parking lot and the train station in the valley, the mini-metro invites people to leave their cars behind, and even in some cases depending on one’s destination, buses.

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It is simple and automated; tickets are easy to buy, the entry and exit points are smooth, and the cars are driverless.  The cars and stations are attractive.  And it is fun to ride.  Standing in the front of the car going downhill is almost like riding a roller coaster;  I channeled my inner 12 year old.

Each car holds about two dozen people and I’ve read where the system can move 3,000 people an hour.   A ticket costs 1.50euro and is good for 70 minutes on the system.

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One thing that worries me however is the routing.  The mini-metro is elevated for most of its route; it does go underground as it reaches the densely packed center.  A portion of the above ground route goes through undeveloped areas which is quite scenic.  (See above.)

But as shown below, a large portion goes through existing residential areas.  I read where the system shuts down at 9:30 every night because the noise is very bothersome to neighbors.  The elevated track bisects the neighborhood.  It invites graffiti and trash and loitering under the track.

My concern is for the quality of life of the residents.  Were they involved in a public participation process?  Was this the best compromise?  Or was it pushed through?  I don’t know the answers yet but as a planner, when one sees a substantial community transportation project routed through existing neighborhoods, you have to ask “was this the path of least resistance due to socioeconomic conditions?  Does this do social and environmental justice to the neighborhood?”

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