Transport and Urban Form

Introduction

The recent rise in energy prices and the need to conserve the environment need an urban form that promotes the use of public transport. The city of Melbourne has been dominated by cars since 1951 due to its plan and urban form. Complying with compact city policies had been a major obstacle in gaining a greater urban efficiency that promotes the use of public transport means (Vuchic 124). There is a very strong correlation between transportation choices and the urban form.

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It is therefore important to find out how urban form components such as population density and land use policies have led to the dominance of cars. The government failure to consolidate dwellings within the city boundary and in the process raising the proportion of public transport trips has favored car dominance (Vuchic 126). This paper will discuss try and explain why the urban form of Melbourne has contributed to the dominance of cars as means of transport since 1951.

The city of Melbourne is one of the major cities around the world that is dominated by cars. Researchers in urban policies and city panning have found out that the urban form of directly affects the choice of transportation means. Urban transport consumes a lot of energy as well as contributing to environmental pollution through greenhouse gas emissions (Thomson 135). How the city is planned determines its sustainability in terms of energy conservation and prevention of environmental pollution.

The mode of transport commonly used in cities in highly dependent on the population density of the city (Thomson 140). The city of Melbourne has been sparsely populated since 1951. This low population density has made the city residents to entirely rely on their private cars to move around the city. The dominance of cars has been brought about by insufficient service of public transport in the outer suburbs of Melbourne which contributes to the high cost of public transport considering the fact that the suburbs have low population densities. In sparsely populated areas, the car is the most preferred mode of transport because public transport is in most cases unavailable. People in low population density areas have to travel anytime they want to get something (Bruce 88).

Body of the text

It is very difficult for a public transport system to cope in sparsely populated areas because the cost of operation will automatically be high. The population of Melbourne has no choice but to completely rely on private cars as their means of transport. Melbourne is among the few cities around the world that is sparsely populated. The majority of homes in Melbourne are set up in gardens with single-storey houses. The best public transport systems are based in high density cities such Beijing and New York (Odgers 45).

In order to encourage the use of public transport systems in Melbourne, there is need to rebuild the inner part of Melbourne in a consolidated pattern to develop high density areas. Urban consolidation will play a major role in encouraging urban residents to adapt to more compact lifestyles (Odgers 45). A high population density is critical in making city residents to do away with the private space that they are used to.

Many residents in Melbourne city prefer to have bigger homes that have a number of shortcomings such as high energy consumption. The idea of coming up with a compact city has been facing a lot of opposition from suburb residents (Newman 123). By opposing high-density housing, the residents of Melbourne will continue relying on cars as a means of transport which is very costly to them. In order to sustain Melbourne’s urban form, the transport planners have no choice but to advocate for a public transport system.

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The reluctance to adopt high density housing is due to the ideological hostility against public transport which has been in place since 1951. Public transport is cheaper compared to the use of private means because it enjoys large amounts of subsidies from the government and local authorities. In order for public transport systems such as trains and buses to be commercially viable, they have to operate in concentrated areas (Goodman 14). The average population density of Melbourne is 15 people per hectare which makes it difficult for public transport system to thrive.

The car influence has made the population density of Melbourne to spread outwards (Goodman 14). The city of Melbourne has got a geographical advantage which makes the city suitable for public transport systems. In 1950s, public transport was the major means of transport in Melbourne. The majority of Melbournians used public transport to go to work during that time. Although the population density of Melbourne went on a decline from 1950s to 1780’s, current official statistics indicate an increase in the population density of Melbourne for the last three decades (Dodson 123).

The city of Melbourne has one of the best urban forms in the world and if proper planning is done, the future of the city can be bright (Dodson 134). The city of Melbourne has got extensive rail infrastructure that can be utilized for public transport. The urban form of Melbourne is very supportive to a public transport system but the reluctance by city planners to the set au adequate infrastructure to support public transport has made cars to remain.

Some city planners argue that the population density of a city can not be used as an excuse for poor designs and services. Many commentators refuse to relate poor public transport use and population density. A higher level of public transport is very much justified in areas with high population as well as low density areas if a small public subsidy is accepted by the residents. The number of people hat use public transport in Melbourne is approximately 20% and this figure can be increased by many people being induced to use public transport (Dodson 146).

It is important for a city to have an affordable and accessible means of transport for its residents to access various services within the city. The ever increasing cost of energy and the need to prevent environmental conservation has made public transport the best option in Melbourne and other cities across the world (Davison 67). The accessibility and sustainability of Victoria’s public transport system is a major priority for the city’s public planners. Low income earners residing in Melbourne have been forced to bear the high cost of private cars due to inefficient public transport systems. Those who can’t afford cars feel socially isolated (Davison 34). Until now, some poor neighborhoods do not have access to public transport services. Rural areas are the most affected with this kind of predicament.

There has been no effort by both central and local governments to expand and upgrade the available public transport systems in Melbourne since the mergence of cars in 1950s (Currie 97). The inaccessibility of public transport means is one of the major reasons why the majority of Melbourne residents prefer to use cars. These challenges can only be solved with an integrated transport plan that will make transportation within the city sustainable and affordable. It is necessary for the city to invest heavily in public transport infrastructure to reduce congestion on the available public transport systems.

The rail network is the most affected by congestion during peak hours. Investment in infrastructure will help a great deal in increasing the public transport capacity during peak hours (Currie 105). Commuters in Melbourne can only enjoy affordable transportation if public transport services are improved by expanding connectivity within the city. Public transport service will continue to remain a major area of concern if immediate actions are not taken to upgrade the public transport services in rural and suburban areas of Melbourne. The inner part of Melbourne has got a lot of commuters during peak hours and the available public transport services are very strained.

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Access to public transport is very poor in the major employment hubs in Melbourne. Many workers in Melbourne rely on cars because the public transport systems do not have the capacity to serve all of them (Cervero 45). The public transport mode share can only be increased if public transport services are set up to connect both regional and urban communities. Access to employment, education and other fundamental services within the city is essential for both social and commercial sustainability of the city. Public transport accessibility and quality is a major determinant factor in the choice of a transport means in a city like Melbourne (Cervero 46).

The land use policies of Melbourne city have been developed specifically to improve urban efficiency by re-arranging the urban form. The general strategy is to develop a compact city through mixed land use. The idea of developing mixed use centers can only be facilitated by high density housing together with efficient public transport systems (Cervero 56). Although these policies have been facing a lot of challenges in their implementation, it is impossible to achieve urban efficiency if they are not fully implemented.

According to the Victorian government’s strategic plan, the city should increase its mixed use activity centers from the current 24% to 41% by the year 2030. By encouraging mixed land use, the proportion of public transport trips will have to be increased. The proportion of public transport is expected to increase from the current 95 to almost 20% by the year 2030. It will be almost impossible to phase out cars if these policies are not fully implemented (Cervero 56).

The compact city policy can only be successful if transport planners in Melbourne city are able to integrate transport planning with land use. Although there have been some extensions of the rail system, public transport funding in Melbourne and other cities across Australia is still inadequate. The idea of increasing the number of multi-unit dwellings is the best way of proper land use and development of a compact city that is suitable for public transport services (Banister 78).

The costs of sprawl and travel patterns are important factors in determining how efficient a city is. It is important for city planners to ensure that there is proper land use in order to minimize both social and transportation costs (Banister 78). A sustainable urban design should consume less land so as to save the costs involved in constructing extra roads to serve a sparsely populated city (Currie 109).

Urban form components such as density and land use can play a major role in promoting urban efficiency and environmental sustainability if appropriate changes are made (Davison 198). The plan to develop more mixed use centers is basically meant to bring transportation and environmental efficiency within the city of Melbourne. Car dependent housing will continue to increase the amount of transport-related emissions into the atmosphere and in the process affecting the environmental performance of the city.

Increased use of energy makes multi-unit mixed land use pointless (Banister 69). The outward development of Melbourne will automatically change the urban form of Melbourne and in the process improving the city’s sustainability and efficiency. It is important for city planners to integrate industrial areas, transport systems and residential planning for the city to function efficiently (Davison 193). The core of every city is the public transport infrastructure and if this is not considered by city planners, other strategic plans within the city can’t work. Mixed use centers affect the mode of transportation choice because it controls and contains unexpected expansions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the urban form Melbourne has led to the dominance of cars since 1951. Some of the major causes of car dominance in the city of Melbourne include the city’s sparse population, inadequate public transport means, reluctance of Melbourne’s authorities to adopt multi-unit housing and mixed land use. Failure to transform Melbourne’s urban form has led to the dominance of cars since 1951.

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Works Cited

Banister, David (2005). Unsustainable Transport: City Transport in the new Century. New York: Taylor & Francis. Print.

Cervero, Robert (1998). Transit Metropolis: A Global Inquiry. New York: Island Press. Print.

Currie, Gregory (2009). Investigating Links between Transport Disadvantage, Social Exclusion and Well-being in Melbourne – Preliminary Results. Transport Policy 16: 97-105. Print.

Davison, Graeme (2004). Car Wars. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Print.

Davison, Graeme (2000). Engineers and Equity: The Political Economy of High Speed Roads in the 1960s and 1990s. Urban Policy & Research 18.2: 191-204. Print.

Dodson, John (2004). The Economic ‘Revolution’ in Melbourne’s West. Urban Policy & Research 22.2: 137-155. Print.

Dodson, John (2011). Unsettling Suburbia: The New Landscape of Oil and Mortgage Vulnerability in Australian Cities. Sydney: UNSW Press. Print.

Goodman, Robin (2005). “Sustainable Urban Form and the Shopping Mall: An Investigation of Activity Centers in Melbourne’s Growth Areas”, given at the second State of Australian Cities Conference organized by Griffith University, held in Brisbane in November 30- December 2. New York: Griffith University Press. Print.

Newman, Peter (1999). Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence. New York: Island Press. Print.

Odgers, John (2009). Have All the Travel Time Savings on Melbourne’s Road Network Been Achieved? Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport, Melbourne. Melbourne: Edward Elgar Publishing. Print

Bruce, Rasmussen (2011). Global Commodity Chains and the Development of Employment Nodes and Corridors in Western Melbourne. Melbourne: Edward Elgar Publishing. Print.

Thomson, Michael (1977). ‘Melbourne’ in Great Cities and Their Traffic. London: Victor Gollancz. Print.

Vuchic, Vukan (1999). Transportation for Livable Cities, Centre for Urban. New Jersey: Center for Urban Policy Research. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, April 19). Transport and Urban Form. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/transport-and-urban-form/

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