City-shaping projects are in vogue
As cities decentralise their economic activities, it’s vital that sustained investment occur to connect residential, employment and industrial centres.
The goal should be to future-proof mobility through expanded bus and rail connections, supported by active transport including cycling, walking and other forms of mobility such as e-scooters.
Singapore has a goal for eight in 10 households to live within 10 minutes’ walk of a train station by 2030.
Boston is making a massive investment in electrified bus rapid transit as a pandemic recovery strategy, while Philadelphia has identified 353 priority bus corridors.
Vienna is experimenting with bundling e-scooters, rental bikes, storage facilities and car-sharing in 100 hubs across the city.
San Diego is also creating mobility hubs as part of its “big five moves” to switch the focus from expanding freeways.
Another big trend is rail projects that encircle the whole metropolitan area, establishing continuous connectivity with other lines and transport modes.
Examples include the Grand Paris Express and EOLE (East-West Express Link), as well as Melbourne’s Suburban Rail Loop and Perth’s Metronet. Seattle is building a light rail network from the central CBD to its four other major metro areas. The San Francisco Bay Area is looking to consolidate linkages between the Caltrain, BART subway and Muni buses.
Many transport authorities are facing budgetary pressure due to a severe drop-off in demand and fare income caused by the pandemic.
For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, BART ridership is not expected to hit pre-pandemic levels until 2024. This could significantly impact the shape of future transport investment.
Cities are looking at how to ensure that authorities continue to have the budgets and necessary powers to innovate.