Light Rail and Urban Development

20th April 2015

Peter Newman writes in The Conversation (20/4/15):

"Most of the world’s urban development over the past 50 years has been road-based. The assumption has been that most people will drive, with the odd bus laid on to pick up those who don’t. Yet in recent years there has been a revival of rail-based urban development, which brings reduced traffic, creates more walkable and lively places to live and work, and most of all attracts developers and financiers to enable denser, mixed-use development. ...

"Rubber-wheeled public transport does not create dense, mixed-use urban centres. Having examined examples around the world, I have found none that can be claimed to have resulted in more focused urbanity apart from already dense third world cities where BRT’s have been successful in attracting patronage as they get people out of traffic. In the United States, the past 20 years of dramatic growth in public transport has seen light rail grow by 190% and heavy rail by 52%, while bus transport has contracted by 3%. It is no surprise that developers, banks and governments in developed cities have returned to light and heavy rail to help regenerate urban centres, while cities with rubber-wheeled public transport continue to be dominated by cars and urban sprawl. ...

"Here is my possible solution, which Infrastructure Australia has previously tried to get state governments to adopt: get the private sector involved in the planning stage, as well as the delivery and operations, of any light rail project. Light rail lends itself to private-sector involvement, but only if the development outcomes being sought are built into the whole project, rather than being an afterthought. ... The rubber-wheel option is never going to deliver the regeneration that many of Australia’s cities need. We need to be brave enough to go for the better option, the rail system, and that means embracing the public-private partnership financing model."

Read the full article: http://theconversation.com/how-to-build-light-rail-in-our-cities-without...

 

Photo Above:  'Go By Streetcar' (Tram) sign in Portland, Oregon was installed by the developer encouraging use of rail based public transport.

Photo Below: Inside a Portland, Oregon tram.  Note that not only are bikes allowed on trams they even provide a handy hook.

Bike on tram

Photo Below:  Urban development in Portland, Oregon supported by trams (streetcars).

Urban development in Portland, Oregon