The "proximity-to-station" Location Policy in Greater Copenhagen - Background, Impacts and Experiences

The "proximity-to-station" Location Policy in Greater Copenhagen - Background, Impacts and Experiences


P Hartoft-Nielsen, Ministry of Environment, DK



In the 1989 Regional Plan for Greater Copenhagen, the spatial main structure of the famous Copenhagen Finger Plan from 1947 was re-established. A core element was to integrate land-use and transportation through a location strategy for offices and other urban functions that creates substantial passenger transport. The strategy requires that such urban activities should be concentrated on areas close to transport junctions, i.e. the railway stations with the best location and connections. The spatial main structure and location strategy - called "the proximity-to-station-policy" - have later been confirmed in the 1993, 1997 and 2001 regional plans.

The paper presents the background of this location strategy, the implementation during the 1990s and the impacts on land-use and transport. Focus in the paper will be on the impacts of location of work-places and dwellings on transport behaviour.

The aims of the location strategy include:

* ensuring mobility and accessibility for all;

* promoting a shift from car use to public transportation;

* relieving the pressure on the road network, avoiding tailbacks and ensuring passability;

* limiting the environmental impacts of transportation;

* limiting car dependency;

* supporting the economy of public transportation;

* limiting urban sprawl and the take-up of land for urban purposes; * ensuring the green wedges between the urban fingers.

The policy is advocated by the state and the regional authorities but it creates a lot of conflicts with localplanning interests. The paper outline the background and the political discussions between the planning levels.

The implementation of the strategy are examined through analyses of the location of new office space and new dwellings constructed since 1989. The take-up and use of land in proximity to stations are examined. Barriers for implementation are discussed and new tools for better implementation are proposed.

Based on interviews with 13.000 employees in 52 large companies and interviews with 3.600 dwellers in 33 newly built housing areas, the impacts of location of office workplaces and dwellings on transport behaviour are analysed. The analyses concludes that while the average commuting distance is not much influenced by the location of office workplaces, the modal split and car use are very much influenced by the distance of the offices to well facilitated railway stations. The greatest effect on reduced car transport are achieved if workplaces are located in the central parts of Copenhagen where access by car are limited through parking policy. But substantial impacts on modal split are also achieved at workplaces located in proximity to well facilitated railway stations even though the accessibility with car are good to such locations. Locating a workplace in proximity to a well facilitated railway station implies 10 kilometer less car travel every day, even if there is free parking space for all. Depending of the kind of company, it is between one fifth and one third of the employees who would have been driven their own car to the company in another location that shift from car to public transport, if the company is located proximate to a railway station. This shift is so to say of peoples own free will because they find that public transport gives the most optimal travel.

The main effect of locating dwellings on areas in proximity to a railway station is about 4-5 kilometer less car travel per person every day. Concerning the location of dwellings the distance to the city center is of greater importance. The total daily travel distance for people living in new housing areas about 25-30 kilometer from the city center is twice the total travel distance for people living in new housing areas in the inner parts of Copenhagen. The daily travel distance in a car is 3½ times longer. These impacts of location are valid even for people having the same income, having access to a car or having children. The paper presents results from these studies of the impacts of location on travel behaviour.

On this background the paper discusses the total impacts of the location strategy on transport in Greater Copenhagen during the 1990s and also discusses the realistic and potential influence of the strategy on transport in a 15 years perspective. Finally, it is discussed how different means aiming at reducing car transport can complement each other and to which extend new planning tools can help promote a more substantial impact from location policy on reducing car traffic.


Association for European Transport