Public Transit

When Public Transport Needs a Support Team

Transportation projects don’t always have the intended results. Instead of solving a problem, they can sometimes make situations worse. Why does this happen? What could prevent this from happening?

Developing countries around the world are rewriting their transportation policies as guidelines to adopt more sustainable practices. Public transport has especially gained attention over the last few years given the fact that it can reduce pollution and congestion problems, among other benefits. Innovation in operating systems, less contaminating vehicles and even restrictive automobile parking measures, aim at achieving a modal shift from private vehicles to public transport. Still a considerable number of such measures have had unexpected and unwanted results.


Each emerging city faces particular issues and undergoes an individual process towards a more sustainable urban transport system. Local expertise and know-how, political will, financial resources and communication strategies determine how fast and effective programs are adapted. A considerable number of projects have been developed and implemented successfully while others have failed or worsened.


An abrupt transportation measure usually results in different types of adaptation in developing cities. Those who can easily adapt will do it, even when detrimental for them. Those who cannot, will have to change their routines in order to cope with a new reality, facing even, in extreme cases, exclusion. Projects and measures such as, implementing a new transit system, restricting the use of private vehicles and even raising taxes for transit, have resulted in counterproductive situations around the world. Though projects seem to achieve the expected impact at first, the lack of integration with local customs causes a negative effect in the long-run.


Transportation planning in today’s cities demands interdisciplinary teams that focus not only on operational aspects of the system, but also on social and economic trends, demographic change and environmental restrictions. Public transportation goes beyond vehicle efficiency. Transit projects demand the support of a diverse team from the very beginning, keeping an eye on different but complementary aspects, such as system operation and cultural behavior. Professionals and stakeholders from different fields can immensely contribute for more effective policies and systems.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

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