Urban Public Transport Today

Urban Public Transport Today

Urban Public Transport Today

Urban Public Transport Today


This book is about how local public transport can be made a less unacceptable alternative to the private car than it is now. It is intended for officials, politicians and others interested in the land use/local transport conundrum. It is also valuable to town planners, those working for passenger transport authorities and anyone concerned with policy making and project appraisal for local public transport.


Although we all have an image of what we think of as being public transport, when we come to define it, it is not quite so easy. We may think of public transport as any means of passenger transport available to anyone without restriction as to membership of any group, provided that the conditions of the operator are met, including payment. It may be publicly or privately owned and will run regularly, usually to a timetable.

Such a broad definition would include all kinds of localized transport such as moving pavements at airports for example, cable cars at ski resorts or in other mountainous areas, small-scale monorails or other railways at leisure parks, horses and carriages in some towns with a substantial tourist industry. These kinds of transport may be important locally but here I have restricted myself to the sort of public transport for longer journeys and which account for the main part of public passenger journeys. In effect, this means buses and railways.

There is a widening gap between what we expect of public transport and what can be delivered, given the circumstances in which we seem to expect it to operate. Our expectations for travel are increasing, both in quantity and in the standards of speed, reliability and comfort. Out-of-town shopping, leisure parks and business parks all involve more travel than did their predecessors. Cars are becoming more like mobile sitting rooms with all the home comforts such as CD player and telephone. To give all this up for a bus or train is asking a lot.

We all still recognize that there are many people for whom public transport is essential, particularly amongst the elderly, children and teenagers and others who have only limited access or no access to a car. Less obvious is the dependence of our cities for their existence on high capacity public transport. Yet there is still a prevalent view that local public transport, especially buses, is only for those who do not have a car, a welfare service for the needy. We still prefer to spend our money on cars rather . . .

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