March 17, 2009

I was always amused to see the trains, buses running empty at rush hours on week-day in Udine, Italy. Udine is a small city like a district city in Maharashtra (e.g. Thane but 1/4 population) , but not a metro. The city is equipped with all facilities and has a railway station connecting to all nearby small towns and big cities like Venice (tourist place at 120 kms) and Trieste (port city at 50 kms). The railway station is a medium size with 8 platforms, clean with a lot of free space. A spacious clean waiting room, news-paper stall, café and some small shops are part of every station. It is a terminus and a junction, hence a lot of trains originating from Udine. You will find a small train of a single bogie running between two stations every one hour, between Udine and Cividale, a historic small town.
You will hardly find any men in the station except for the arrival of departure of a train. Just outside the station, it has some shops, taxi-stand, local bus-stand and log-distance bus-stand and small-big restaurants (incl. MacDonalds), but it is not a crowded place like our railway stations. No crowd of vehicles, as vehicles come and move, buses come and move and also people come and move. A very few people travel by train as everybody prefers to move in own cars to attend office or to go to factory. Only those who are traveling a long distance are the visitors of train and station, that is the only crowd in the train.
Same is the case with bus. Udine has some 15 routes of buses covering entire city (and some outskirts) of around 10 km circle. All routes have starting & end points outside Udine, but all routes have stop at Station, hence buses just come & move away from station, making it a crowd-less spot. All buses run perfectly on time, with 10 to 15 minutes frequency but all buses run half-empty. In fact, both trains and buses services must be in losses, but are run as a welfare service for those in need because not all people afford own car.
There are no rickshaws, for obvious reasons and taxis are very few, can count on fingers. I fear if the taxi-owners make any earnings at all. Four or five taxis just keep lingering at taxi-stand near station, waiting for customers. The taxis, in fact, are for visitors or guests and not for residents of Udine or may be some times for residents for airport-drop. Residents travel in their own car to air-port, park their car on airport parking space if they are flying for a week or so.

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Thane, India
Project Management Professional, PMP Director, Fabtech CE Pvt Ltd, India Currently in Italy for marketing activities in European Engineering Sector. Politically and Socially active, currently active with small political party "Samajvadi Jan Parishad" and social movement promoting intercaste marriages in India "Pratibimb Mishra Vivah Mandal"

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