Report: Rapid Transit and Urban Recovery – how should towns and cities respond?

On 19 May 2021, The Academy of Urbanism ran an online seminar aimed at drawing lessons from how rapid transit systems, such as trams and metros, can aid urban recovery in the light of declines in public transport usage and the need to cut congestion and meet carbon reduction targets.

A combination of economic and demographic trends along with the impact of Covid-19 are making it harder for cities to attract the investment needed for recovery. A common issue is not only what projects to promote but also how to attract funding for infrastructure projects that take years to pay off.

The event sought to consider:

1. How far has rapid transit contributed to the city’s growth or recovery in environmental, social and economic terms? 

2. Why can rapid transit achieve more than using existing rail and road capacity to relieve congestion? 

3. What methods were used to plan the project and overcome objections at the planning stage? 

4. How much in broad terms did the scheme cost and how was it funded? 

5. Where can lessons be found for reducing the costs, increasing the benefits, and reaching agreement, including public realm improvements? 

6. Who is best placed to take the lead? 

The subsequent report sets out an overview for case studies on finance and delivery of rapid transit systems, and looks at some of the advantages that these systems have brought to Aarhus, Nottingham, Copenhagen and Dublin. 

The event was kindly supported by Iarnród Éireann-Irish Rail.

Session 1: Case Studies

Dublin
Dick Gleeson, former City Planner, Dublin
Pat O’Donoghue, former Director of Design and Construction, Railways Procurement Agency

Aarhus
Stephen Willacy, former City Architect, Aarhus

Copenhagen
Dr. Luise Noring, Asst. Professor at Copenhagen Business School and founder of City Facilitators

Nottingham
Steve Tough, Head of Transport Operations at Nottingham City Council

Feedback from Breakout Sessions

In this video, we heard feedback from three breakout sessions on Planning, Funding, Governance.

Panel Discussion

In this video, we heard from our assembled panel on the subject:

Frank Allen, Chair, Iarnród Éireann-Irish Rail
Tom Gifford, Head of Mass Transit, West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Dr. George Hazel OBE, Director of E-Rail
Martin Tugwell, incoming Chief Executive, Transport for the North

Photo of Nottingham by Dave Hitchborne

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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