The City as a Human Environment

By Duane G. Levine; Arthur C. Upton | Go to book overview

10
THE ROLE OF RAIL TRANSIT IN CONTEMPORARY CITIES

VUKAN R. VUCHIC

Construction of a metro (rapid transit) system in any city is a major event. It usually represents the largest single investment in a public facility the city has ever made; it greatly improves transportation and population mobility; and it has a major and permanent impact on the character and environment of the city.

For this reason, planning a metro system involves a major multi-year effort requiring not only physical planning and design, but urban planning considerations, financing decisions and, above all, political decisions by the government or, sometimes, project endorsement through a popular vote.

Most cities that have built metro systems in recent years, such as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Sao Paulo, Munich, or Hong Kong, have experienced a period of intensive construction activities preceded by planning and decisions about the character the city should have in the future. Construction of the metro is also an occasion for tremendous civic activities and pride, but in some cases, particularly in our country, of controversy, criticism, and challenge of its results.

Rail transit, particularly a metro system, can have a strong impact on the character and permanence of a city if it is correctly planned and supported by coordinated land use planning. Policies toward a city's development, form, and character therefore strongly influence decisions about building rail transit.

This chapter presents a brief review of recent developments in rail transit and its current role in cities of developed and developing coun-

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