Reading 04 -�Public transportation
study conducted for the World Bank by Murdoch University's Institute for
Science and Technology Policy (ISTP) has
demonstrated that public transport is more efficient than cars. The study
compared the proportion of wealth poured into transport by thirty-seven cities
around the world. This included both the public and private costs of building,
maintaining and using a transport system.
found that the Western Australian city of Perth is a good example of a city
with minimal public transport. As a result, 17% of its wealth went into
transport costs. Some European and Asian cities, on the other hand, spent as
little as 5%. Professor Peter Newman, ISTP Director, pointed out that these
more efficient cities were able to put the difference into attracting industry
and jobs or creating a better place to live.
According to Professor Newman, the larger Australian city of Melbourne
is a rather unusual city in this
sort of comparison. He describes it as two cities: 'A European city surrounded
by a car-dependent one'. Melbourne's large
tram network has made car use in the inner city much lower, but the
outer suburbs have the same car-based structure as most other Australian
cities. The explosion in demand for accommodation in the inner suburbs of
Melbourne suggests a recent change in many people's preferences as to where
says this is a new, broader way of considering public transport issues. In the
past, the case for public transport has been made on the basis of environmental
and social justice considerations rather than economics. Newman, however,
believes the study demonstrates that 'the auto-dependent city model is
inefficient and grossly inadequate in economic as well as environmental terms'.
Bicycle use was not
included in the study but Newman noted that the two most 'bicycle friendly'
cities considered � Amsterdam and Copenhagen � were very efficient, even though
their public transport systems were 'reasonable but not special'.
common for supporters of road networks to reject the models of cities with good
public transport by arguing that such systems would not work in their
particular city. One objection is climate. Some people say their city could not
make more use of public transport because it is either too hot or too cold.
Newman rejects this, pointing out that public transport has been successful in both Toronto and Singapore and, in
fact, he has checked the use of cars against climate and found 'zero
comes to other physical features, road lobbies are on stronger ground. For
example, Newman accepts it would be hard for a city as hilly as Auckland to
develop a really good rail network. However, he points out that both Hong Kong
and Zurich have managed to make a success of their rail systems, heavy and
light respectively, though there are few cities in the world as hilly.
A In fact, Newman
believes the main reason for adopting one sort of transport over another is
politics: 'The more democratic the process, the more public transport is
favored.' He considers Portland, Oregon, a
perfect example of this. Some years ago, federal money was granted to build
a new road. However, local pressure groups forced a referendum over whether to
spend the money on light rail instead. The rail proposal won and the railway
worked spectacularly well. In the years
that have followed, more and more rail systems have been put in, dramatically changing
the nature of the city. Newman notes that Portland has about the same
population as Perth and had a similar population density at the time.
B In the
UK, travel times to work had been stable for at least six centuries, with
people avoiding situations that required them to spend more than half an hour
travelling to work. Trains and cars initially
allowed people to live at greater distances without taking longer to reach
their destination. However, public
infrastructure did not keep pace with urban sprawl, causing massive
congestion problems which now make commuting times far higher.
C There is a widespread belief that increasing wealth encourages people
to live farther out where cars are the only viable transport. The example of European cities
refutes that. They are often wealthier
than their American counterparts but have not generated the same level of car
use. In Stockholm, car use has actually
fallen in recent years as the city has become larger and wealthier. A
new study makes this point even more starkly. Developing cities in Asia, such
as Jakarta and Bangkok, make more use of the car than wealthy Asian cities such
as Tokyo and Singapore. In cities that developed later, the World Bank and
Asian Development Bank discouraged the building of public transport and people
have been forced to rely on cars �creating the massive traffic jams that
characterize those cities.
E It was once assumed that improvements in
telecommunications would lead to more dispersal in the
population as people were no longer forced
successfully uses a light rail transport system in hilly environment�PerthAucklandPortland
7 successful public transport system despite cold winters�PerthAucklandPortland
profitably moved from road to light rail transport system�PerthAucklandPortland
9 hilly and
inappropriate for rail transport system PerthAucklandPortland
10heavily dependent on cars despite widespread poverty�PerthAucklandPortland
due to a limited public transport system�PerthAucklandPortland