Last year, the Earth’s population passed the 7 billion mark, with about 50% of those people living in cities. While both global population and urbanisation rates have been estimated to rise, of greater significance is that roughly 75% of people will live in cities by 2050. How might this affect the way we move around urban areas in the future? Cities (especially developing cities that are likely to experience the largest boom and strain) will need to think of smarter and more efficient means of transporting citizens.
City leaders face tough challenges, not least their increasingly limited resources. Choosing the best transport modes and investments is difficult in the conditions of present day cities, with the increasingly urbanised future population making the challenge of keeping cities moving further complex.
The City of Cape Town, South Africa, is investing heavily in an efficient Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that will eventually form part of an integrated transit network, something developed cities such as London, Hong Kong and New York have had for many years already. While this expansion is taking place, the city also needs to accommodate a delay in major upgrades to its suburban rail service by introducing additional bus services where rail is meant to be the backbone. Wisely, Cape Town has learned from best practice across the globe by establishing ‘Transport for Cape Town’ – a transport authority that will see to manage all of the city’s public transport.
Each city brings its own issues to overcome in making transport better and more sustainable for citizens. For some, the network is already in place and it is largely a matter of maintaining it and making the right information available at the right time. Other cities are still far away from simply getting a bus rapid transit system functioning, such as Delhi, which has battled with its anti-BRT upper-class citizens. Whatever a city’s current public transport situation, it is vital that journey times are kept to a minimum and trips are as comfortable as possible in order to entice people from their cars and make cities more liveable in the process.
Our next #CityTalk tweetchat will focus on how cities identify and manage their local transport challenges. Joining the discussion will be our special guest Councillor Brett Herron of the City of Cape Town, who is overseeing probably one of the most important and exciting periods of public transport in his city. Join This Big City, Future Cape Town and Councillor Brett Herron on 30 October at 6PM GMT/7PM CET/8PM SAST/2PM EDT for an interactive one-hour discussion on Twitter.