SUSTAINABLE MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT IN THE THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES' URBAN AREAS; CHALLENGES, HAZARDS, AND CONSEQUENCES OF DEFERMENT: THE CASE OF RIYADH CITY, CAPITAL OF SAUDI ARABIA Open Access
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AbstractThe impacts of misguided urban planning can be damaging to the involved population's welfare and, in consequence, destructive to the economy of a country. More proficient urban planning approach, which meets population's needs and incorporates the sustainable rapid mass transit system, is required. Many Third World countries' urban planning experts often tend to neglect the provisions for incorporating a sustainable mass transit system at the early stages of the urban planning process. Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is an example of a city experiencing an exponential urban growth. However, although the city's planners have succeeded to some extent, in containing and controlling the enormous city growth, they are unable to introduce a sustainable rapid mass transit system to the city at its current developmental stage. A qualitative research approach was used in an extensive interview process with twelve Saudi officials and highly specialized urban planners involved in the three consecutive master plans' development. The research was conducted through eighteen interview questions in order to determine the causes behind the city's flawed decision-making processes in Riyadh's urban planning process that failed to incorporate a rapid mass transit system (specifically Metro) provision into the city's structural frame through the decision-making process in any of the three master plans' documentation. Among major factors hindering the progress of urban development are the following: lack of the city's strategic vision for the future; absence of a comprehensive and dynamic urban planning approach; insufficient public participation in the urban planning process; inadequate population density in the city required to promote a viable mass transit system implementation; lack of funding for new urban infrastructure projects; overlapping of responsibilities among various municipal agencies; lack of a dedicated central authority to promote sustainable mass transit system causes; no legislative mechanisms in place to guide the implementation of a master plan's provisions; no viable remedial measures that could contribute to the betterment of urban planning. This research lays the foundations for further study of urban planning impacts on the involved population's health that can deteriorate due to, e.g., tense commuting conditions. It also emphasizes the importance of correlating inner-city population's welfare with comprehensive urban planning. For instance in Saudi Arabia, according to statistical data, the rate of diabetes reaches 30% of the country's urban population. Other social ailments in Saudis cities can also be attributed to poor urban planning.