Implementing a Public Transport Network on the Scale of Living Areas

Implementing a Public Transport Network on the Scale of Living Areas




This paper analyses issues of organizing public transport services in large living areas. By analysing french services and neighbouring country's approaches, it sets out the terms and guidelines to develop such a transport network.


In the last few years in France, most of the new transport public services have been developed in densely populated urban areas.
Local and national policies promote and encourage the implementation of sustainable mobility plans. A large number of city centers have been newly designed. Notably, thanks to attractive and competitive transport services using dedicated lanes (like tram or BHLS), qualitative urban spaces have been implemented.

Results are positive. Analysis shows a better sharing of public space for the benefit of non-motorized vehicles, the decrease of private car use, while modal shares of walking, cycling and public transport have been growing up.

Yet, those local policies have been mainly concentrated in densely urban areas, while, at the same time, urban areas have been growing. So, a gradual enlargement of living areas can be noticed.

However, sustainable and ecological issues in terms of transport involve working to develop sustainable mobilities at all the scales. Nowadays, organizing transport services in large living areas seems to be crucial. Large-scale household travel surveys indicate strong differences in commuting practices between urban centers and suburban areas with lowest density.
The travel distances in suburban areas are much higher than in inner cities, and it is the same considering travel time. That's why at the suburban scale, social, environmental and economical stakes are multidimensional and major.

The challenge is to link these living areas  : town center, suburbs, immediate surroundings and more remote areas.
How to help bridge the gap between urban, densily populated areas and suburban territories? In the current economic climate with constrained budget, the question is : how successful tools used for urban centers can be scaled up and adapted to the living areas?

In this paper, we begin by recalling different issues in term of developing transport services at the scale of living areas. We base our analysis on travel surveys concerning the location of firms and households but also mobility practices. It shows that for the last 40 years, the living areas have been gradually growing. We also point the fact that in these territories, the shortage of transport services may be due to the french institutional share of transport competencies, but also to urban planning policies.

Then, we present the challenges faced by users, transport authorities and operators in order to create, develop and maintain transport’s network at a large living scale.
Thanks to a multicriteria approach, we identify the terms and guidelines to allow an optimum operation of a transport network adapted to the living territories scale : cooperation, complementarity, princing, intermodality, integration into the urban project... are tools to implement.

Finally, this paper points out the issues of an increased cooperation between all transport authorities and local actors to meet this challenge.
We make full use of feedback in neighbouring countries, such as Germany or Switzerland. The approach in France in terms of transport services is quite different, but we highlight the key strengths and limits of these foreign systems and comment their relevance and potential for replication in France.


Association for European Transport