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MAGIC PORTALS INSTEAD PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Ani Kasareli

 Nothing much has changed since then – every single day, whenever I go out, I wish with all my heart to open the wardrobe and discover magic tunnel there.

I wish it in the hour-long traffic jams, when I see thousands of cars, streets full of public busses or microbuses overcrowded with people. You think Metro is the solution? Yes, it is, sometimes. It is the fastest public transport in Tbilisi. Lots of people prefer to travel by metro, overloaded stations give options: brave one - take a deep breath and struggle to get in the crowded wagon; or wait for the next one, wait until you manage to get in there, with no casualties.

Actually the “trip” starts, when you finally get into the wagon. There’s no way you stumble and fall, because you merely cannot even move your fingers and somebody’s firmly standing on your right foot. People hold the railings so that there is no space left and whenever the machinist makes the turn, you think that the railings will be cut off with the force.

The sea of faces look sleepy and disturbed, you can read the stories in their eyes, sometimes even wonder and imagine where would he be going, or what kind of meal did she have today at work. People get so close to each other in public transport that you think you can even read their minds. You can even hear the music from their headphones. The only thing that differs morning rush hours from evening ones is the smell. Usually, at 9 a.m. you can feel the slight smell of various perfumes, toothpaste and newspapers, but at 7 in the evening you actually smell the stressful day.

Couple of weeks ago, I was going home from work at 6:30 and was lucky to stand in a traffic jam for 42 minutes, which was enough time to count how many passengers where in the microbus. I counted 34, when maximum number of passengers in the microbus is 16.

Highways and Transportation Association tells us that there are more than 100 thousands cars in Tbilisi. The number is increasing every day.

Some of the citizens have ideas how to solve the problem. One of them is, "Iare Pekhit" (walk)– the movement encourages people to walk more, protects pedestrians’ rights in cities. They hope to persuade state authorities at the national and municipal levels to create better policies and practices for supporting those, who walk. I loved the idea and decided to walk a little bit more then I used to. 

Also, there are several online community pages and groups, which carry out active and various social campaigns demanding bicycle paths in Tbilisi. I do not know how to ride a bike, but I love to roller skate and I would be pleased to buy a new pair of rollers. Maybe, that way I will stop making wishes about magical doorway in my wardrobe and finally grow up, we all have to “grow up”. Instead of wasting time in hour-long traffic jams, or energy – fighting for a free place in a transport, I will use my time to walk and breathe some fresh air; will fight with others who demand the bicycle paths and make life and the place we live in better, safer and healthier. With this power, who knows, maybe someday we all will think about demanding some Milky Way paths for flying-bicycles to get to another planet.