Public Transport Systems in Utopian and Dystopian Cities

Throughout the centuries, cities have been estimated from the perspective of transport and space planning potential and the extent of urbanism and architecture development. Most scientists and architectures believe that introducing changes and upgrades to the public transportation systems is a key solution to constructing the city of the future. Indeed, a thorough examination of problems connected with the development of transport infrastructure reveals that it directly relates to ecological problems and sustainable urban development.

More importantly, transport greatly affects the economic and cultural environment whose successful improvement is based on a healthy public realm and proper usage of innovative technologies. In order to create an ideal image of a future city and achieve urban sustainability, it is necessary to subject transport system reconstruction to the process of vision-oriented thinking and a community-oriented framework for decision-making (Kenworthy, 2006, p. 79). Additionally, planning implications of the transport system should be adjacent to the ecological outlook on using natural resources.

With regard to the above, the dilemma of urban development and city gentrification has revealed the dispute on utopian and dystopian visions. Such rigid discrepancies in outlooks are predetermined by the existing problems in the sphere of social, political, and cultural developments, which are closely interrelated. This particularly concerns implications of public transport system implications because there are still no viable solutions that would diminish the technological and transport gap, the usage of private cars and launch a more ecologically based view on public transport.

Overview of Transport Public Infrastructure Development

It should be admitted that the role of transportation is constantly changing. Nowadays it addresses sophisticated questions of both theoretical and practical nature. Researchers and policy-makers have become more aware of the necessity to extend the scope of transportation planning and research and pay sufficient attention to the realms that are either directly or indirectly related to transport system (Nijkamp and Blass, p. 10). In particular, passenger flows include household and population which largely define the passenger transport demand through its demographic process, changing lifestyles and leisure, and consumption patterns.

Aside from this, the transport system is based development of the economic systems, its changing location patterns, emerging from new branches of production, and technology distributions. The rapid introduction of communication and information technologies can also have a considerable impact on passenger transport. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate and predict the changes and developmental prospect through strategic prism, including the limitations established by the economical situation. Finally, the process of globalization and aggressive integration should also be seen as a crucial reason for reconstructing and filling in the gaps of public transport system.

It should also be stressed that transport planning should rely on constantly growing retail business and, therefore, this creates coordination and consistency problems. Regarding the above, there is an urgent necessity to develop an integrated transport planning with closer consideration of retails policies (Ibrahim and McGoldrick, 2003, p. 35). To be more precise, there is a considerable gap in transit systems planning and other planning areas connected with social and economic realms.

Despite the problems and gaps in transport system constructions, it is still possible to pursue significant shifts in transport police. This particularly concerns environment issues and strategies for sustainable development (Bannister, 2002, p. 228). The current debates are considerably broader because they involve the consideration of global pollutants, acid rains, and the problem of non-renewable resources. Considering the above problems and gaps of transport development, it is possible to construct optimistic and pessimistic visions of future cities advancement. However, while diagnosing the future possibilities of cities gentrification, researchers should be more focused on such issues as globalization, integration and economic gaps, and demographic explosions.

Utopian Visions of City Constructions with Regard to Planning Implications for Transport System

The Utopian visions of city development were existent already in the nineteenth century (Rudlin and Falk, 2009. p. 173). Social reformers were the first who tried to introduce alternative social and political systems with regard to the problems presenting in this period of time. In this regard, transport planning of the twenty first century should be considered through the prism of city sustainability and development and environmental issues. For this task, a future transport network of a city should depend on broader environmental issues, such as energy production, car use, and recycling. Another dimension of a successful planning of transit system correlates with city sustainability. Utopian views, therefore, presuppose that there should be a balance between constructing highways and networks and technological advancement.

Putting an emphasis on the environmental problems and lack of urban space leads to the necessity to focus on the problem of car use in public transport system and define alternative possibilities within current urban spaces. There are many conferences and projects that are dedicated to devising the approaches for creating an ecologically friendly transport concept. In particular, the European research project provides their transport solutions aimed at improving the quality of life, particularly in urban areas (Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Transport Committee, 2005, p. 107). The strategies put forward by the project prove that a successful development of future cities, particularly its urban areas, relies on an ecological character of transport systems.

The criticism of transport system also concerns insufficient transport regulation in the inner cities. The above-presented problems provide a solid ground for establishing the utopian vies with regard to freight transport networks. This realization of these issues creates the necessity dwell on such aspects as market changes, and shifts in infrastructure investments and regulations. A though analysis of those changes reveals that an utopian vision of transport network should involve infrastructure investments in IT-driven transport systems and price regulations that should reflect all kinds of costs, including all external ones (Thomsen, Nielsen, and Gudmundsson 2005, p. 99).

In addition, there should also be a considerable focus on such aspects like logistical decision, manufacture and distributions systems being generators of transport development, demography and lifestyle. Freight transport, therefore, should be based on dynamics and different dimensions of problems.

While constructing the transportation system of the future, a particular attention should be focused on social problems. To be more exact, the utopian transport network design should be aimed at resolving conflicts and problems within a community. In order to understand the potential development of the future city, it is also important to understand that demographics and social needs. Utopian visions of transport cities, hence, will be more focused on decreasing the importance of private care and emphasizing the priority of public transport. Such an approach can solve the problem of traffic density and decrease the popularity of private car.

Works and project of many architectures and urban planners are dedicated to the production of significant and effective models of transport network in regard to large city planning (Richards, 2001, p. 35). According to Richards (2001), the most critical issues of the transport system is the width of the roads where it is necessary to provide payment with enough space for trees, street cafes, and stalls. It is also possible to provide lanes for cycles, which can also improve the traffic flow. One the one hand, the presented changes can eliminate road congestion through constructing new roads or widening the existing ones (Richards, 2001, p. 36). The problem is that both variants do not contribute much to problem solving because widening can only lead to traffic density. Besides, such a proposal can also face public opposition.

A viable solution to the problem of road congestion may be provided through the introduction of non-motorized transport such ass bicycles that provide considerable benefits for urban areas as they much cheaper to construct, purchase, and maintain. In addition, innovative and creative expansion can greatly foster the penetration of new concepts and ideas of future public transport development.

The criticism of the present situation in the transportation sphere is also connected with lack of standards, passive integration of information technologies and poor introduction of innovations. The technological gaps discussions above can be fill in through the use of well-equipped public transport units. For instance, trams and buses can use on-board transponders which control all traffic lights in a city. Drives can have specific board screens that enable them to control time. Such a system can considerably improve the public standard of transport. In addition, global satellites can control the location of public transport to avoid problems with road congestion and increase the road accidents.

In general, although the problems in the sphere of public transportation are multidimensional and require a complex and sophisticated approach, the ways toward a more equitable transit system are clear. In particular, transport architects must transfer their attention from transport flow problems to considering irrelevant uses of road environments. Streets should be perceived as the parts of the public sphere rather than means for transport movement. Roads construction should focus on traffic flow but on the design of the transit pattern. Such transport polices will stabilize car-oriented transport and models for land-use and introduce multimodal transport behaviors.

Dystopian Visions of City Constructions with Regard to Planning Implications for Transport System

While thinking over future aspects of public transportation system and analyzing the proposal of their representation in future cities, the methods and solutions proposed by urban planners can hardly be applicable to the current economic situation in some countries. Theoretical concepts immediately fail when committed to practice, which constitutes the main cornerstone for most transport architects (Mees, 2009, p. 147). For instance, a shift from private car usage to public transport advancement seems to be quite effective, but there are no practical ground and solutions that could make this shift possible. As a result, a public transport becomes less attractive and frequent because it is insufficiently patronized by transport agencies. Such a situation leads to cost declines and diminishing the role of public transport.

Regarding the above, there must an explanation for failure of the above presented utopian versions of public transport planning. Certainly, a modern public transport can offer high standards of services in case it is sufficiently financing and properly regulating.

However, it is impossible to deny the fact that large cities and urban areas have better bus and tram services as compared with deregulated and suburban areas. In this respect, public although public transport is well-developed in central parts of the city, it cannot be still called as a reliable and secured one. While thinking over transport planning and urban sustainability, the first and the foremost thing to consider is measurement of transportation options and evaluation of solutions to future transport problems, which has not been accomplished yet (Pinderhughes, p. 141).

For instance, sustainable transportation planning faces the problem that increased vehicle travelling reveals consumer demand. It also acknowledges that high demand in the car is strongly dependent from spatial arrangements and by the deficiency of other public transport alternatives. However, these problems have not been solved yet because it is connected with economical facts. In particular, public transport agencies fail to properly finance this area and, therefore, it can hardly meet the customers’ requirements.

The impossibility to develop a well-organization and administered public transport infrastructure is also connected with presence of inward-looking cultures introducing low car ownership as people’s impossibility to have a private car. What is more problematic is that high concentration of passengers makes public transportation agencies pay insufficient attention to providing proper services and needs. A car culture has lessened the importance of public transportation systems and has led to inability of public transport employees to face changes. Effective passenger-oriented organization cultures can be developed from prosperous organizational histories.

This problem is that this aspect has been misunderstood in providing institutional reforms (Mees, 2009, p. 158). The failure to radically change the organizational cultures and restructure of the staff will not provide significant improvements. Rather, the introduction of the new staff at managerial levels, the involvement of outside consultants and reinforced leadership will be much more effective in introducing the changes.

Pessimistic projecting are also connected with the usage of non-motorized devices and development of superior public transport infrastructure. The implementation of environmental technology and decrease of energy fuel will face a rigid opposition of car-oriented culture. Such a radical reorganization will touch upon the public realm issues and economic infrastructure whose significant segment will experience great losses. Moreover, reluctance to use public transport is also predetermined by some social issues because people lack the ability to introduce creative and vision-oriented approaches to restructuring transport infrastructure. Finally, urban communities are not fully aware of democratic and environmental frameworks for decision-making and sustainability.

Another dystopian representation of future public transportation planning is revealed through impossibility to strike the balance between rapid advancement of technology and science and transportation system development. This issue is closely associated with environmental issues because public transport mode has a considerable impact on the ecological situation, which is revealed through accidents, noise, congestion, and pollution. In order to resolve the problem, there is a necessity to implement innovative technologies, which is almost impossible due to communities’ resistance to innovations and creativity.

Finally, there is a long-termed ambiguity in regard to passenger’s perspectives in public transport planning. This specifically concerns the quality management and ethical issues. The problem is that increasing awareness will not necessarily lead to the improvement of service quality, but to the rise of rigid competition (Schiefelbusch and Dienel, 2009, p. 85). Additionally, the low popularity of public transport is predetermined by cost reductions and financial support.

If public transportation agencies fail to introduce all changes and redirect their path to the construction of a neo-liberal public transport system, they can worsen the environmental, social, and ecological situation. More importantly, they will fail to achieve sustainable mobility and increase the role of quality management. The failure is also guaranteed if all scenarios of public transport planning will be based on a multidimensional approach to network advancement and improvement. Only a complex implementation of all dimensions – environment, technology, and economy – can solve the problem of energy consumption, emissions, and land use.


For creating ideal conditions for city gentrification and urban sustainability, it is necessary to introduce multidimensional reforms to the o public transport system and launch a community-oriented framework for a decision-making process. Therefore, planning implications of public transport infrastructure should rely on the ecological, social, and economic situation. More importantly, there should be a critical re-evaluation of energy use and the elimination of car culture. In this regard, much research has been done on utopian and dystopian visions of public transport planning in future cities.

However, the dilemma of urban development and city sustainability has provided serious contradictions in introducing solutions and shifting the concept of public transport. The consideration of three main elements of successful public transport development – innovative technology, environmental issues, and economic and social perception – is decisive. Alternatively, isolated implementation of those aspects to the improvement of public transport infrastructure is impossible because those components are closely interconnected. It should also be stressed that the above-mentioned component should be subjected to creative and innovative thinking, which implies the necessity to completely change the culture and stereotypes about the role and quality of the public transport sector.


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