Public transport is a low-energy, low-resource means of moving people around cities and regions, at least in comparison with the private motor vehicle.
Many cities are plagued by cars which fill the roads with traffic, and take up precious land in urban centres for parking. Public transport is an essential way of reducing car traffic in cities that have grown too large for walking or cycling to provide for most journeys.
Cost Savings from a Good Public Transport System
In Adelaide, a sprawling, car dependent city, car-use averages around 20 car-km per person per day, and car ownership is around 0.5 cars per person. Assume that the average car costs around $4 per day to own and 20c/km to run; then the cost to the community of car transport is around $8 per person per day.
Suppose we develop a good public transport system in an attempt to reduce the number of cars owned and car-km travelled. Succeeding in this might free up $3 per person per day from spending on car ownership and use (if the improved public transport resulted in eg a 50% reduction in car-km, and a 25% reduction in car ownership).
How much extra do we have to spend to get a good public transport system?
Typical local densities in Adelaide are around 20 persons per hectare. Suppose we supplied Adelaide with a public transport network of 1 route-km per 1000 people, and ran buses, trams and trains on the network at around 300 bus-equivalent-service-km per route-km per day (150 each way). That would amount to around 0.3 bus-equivalent service-km per person per day, or around 0.2 service-km extra on exting service provision. Assuming we paid $3 per service-km to run the system, plus 10% for infrastructure costs, the system would cost around $1 per person per day, or $370 m per year for a city of one million people.
Public Transport. Wikipedia - What is public transport?
It's Time to Move. Public Transport Users Association (Victoria) -- Public transport policy recommendations.
Transport Forum Part 2. Earthbeat. ABC. 1999.7.3 -- Paul Mees on bus-train Cooperation. Peter Newman on bus versus rail.
In the Fight to Clear the Streets, Light Rail is Streets Ahead. Garry Glazebrook, Chris Brown and Jeff Angel. Sydney Morning Herald. 2006.1.13 -- Bus versus light rail
Transit Scheduling and Frequency. Transportation Research Board -- The overriding service quality objectives of scheduling and frequency changes are to minimize overall passenger trip time and enhance convenience.
What Can Houston Learn from LA's Transit Oriented Development Failure? Houston Strategies. 2007.7 -- Transit oriented development needs good transit to be effective.
Public Transport Users Association. (Victoria)