The 'disruption' we really need: public transport for the urban millennium
Mass transit is the only form of motorised transport that can move large numbers of people to the same destination at the same time without either alienating the space needed for social and economic interaction or allowing cities to encroach further upon vital natural environments or agricultural land. Despite the rapid development and deployment of `disruptive' technologies in urban transport, mass transit will still have a vital role to play in the transport systems of the world's great urban regions in coming decades. This is largely because cities of the future will face increasing competition over space. No urban region has been entirely successful in creating mass transit networks that offer speed and convenience approaching that of the private car, but some have done much better than others. This chapter presents case studies of relative success in the creation of space-efficient transport systems in the urban regions of Vienna, Zurich and Vancouver. It gives an overview of transport system performance including operating costs, infrastructure investments and mode share, together with contextual demographic data. In each case, this is accompanied by a short outline of the political and institutional processes that have enabled these outcomes to be achieved. Common features in all the three cities include consistent and skilful engagement in local political processes by transit advocates and planners and coherent use of transport planning practices that give primacy to meet the needs of mass transit users at the lowest possible cost.