Planners often take extremely dogmatic positions regarding sustainable transport. One of the myths that planners have created is that public transport is not possible unless the density of land use is very high – this, of course is not completely unjustified, but the worry is that this is now being used as an excuse to not provide good public transport to suburbs.This now becomes a way of hiding the ineptness of public transport planners and managers where decent public transport could have been provided.
Now, we in India are very well acquainted with bad management of Public Transport. In Chennai, the numbering of buses is so bewildering that an A47 takes a different route from a 47A, which has more variants like 47, 47D, 47G and so on. In addition, you need to check whether the bus has a white or a yellow name-board to figure out if the bus will stop at your destination or not. Nor do the multitude of public transport agencies in Chennai coordinate with each other – see what this Chennai journalist has to say on that subject. Surely population density and suburbanization is not the biggest barrier to improving public transport mode shares in Chennai?
Paul Mees, in his brilliant book “Transport for Suburbia” debunks the density myth by telling us how public transport may be improved, regardless of population density. Prof. Mees has kindly permitted the introductory chapter of the book to be reproduced in World Streets – do take a look!
About the author:
Dr. Paul Mees (born 1961) is an Australian academic, currently serving as a senior lecturer at the school of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University, previously at University of Melbourne, and has been a consultant to local, regional and State government transport and planning agencies in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.. Originally a lawyer prior to becoming an academic, he lectures in statutory planning and transport planning.
Paul is a past President of the Public Transport Users Association in Melbourne and has been a very high-profile contributor to public debates on transport planning in Victoria over the last decade. Some of the most notable controversies involving Dr. Mees have been his legal actions attempting to prevent the construction of transport projects contrary to his views on good public transport policy. A very prominent example of this was his attempt during the late 1990s to question the legality of aspects of the largest urban infrastructure project in Australia’s history, the CityLink tollway system in Melbourne. More recently he contested the legality of the project to build a marshalling yard and a new tram “superstop” in front of the main entrance to the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus on Swanston Street. . You can contact him at paul.mees (at) rmit.edu.au.