The Transit Metropolis: A Global Inquiry by Robert Cervero (1998)Kangning Huang
Compared to private automobiles, public transit systems can avoid congestions, reduce carbon emissions and energy use, and help improve air quality. However, it is a challenge for public transit to compete with private automobiles, while residents’ incomes are rising and cities are suburbanizing. To win this competition, the author argues, public transit should develop coherently with the existing land use patterns and future land use change. The required coherence between transit and land use is derived from the essential functionality of transportations—facilitating the movements of people from places to places. The directions and volumes of these movements are determined by people’s needs and the spatial patterns of land use. Different types of land use configurations require corresponding public transit systems to support them. For instance, the already suburbanized cities need transit to move people from periphery to their cores. On the other hand, the already densely developed cities may need transit to connect to the new subcenters.However, merely meeting the present land use is not enough, because the land use patterns are constantly changing, and the future patterns also need to be considered. As the future land use change also depends on public transit, consideration of future may lead to a chicken-or-eggs dilemma. To solve this dilemma, we need to come back to the essence of land use and transportation—meeting people’s needs. Rather than predicting future land use change and then plan the public transit accordingly, we should understand the changing needs behind the possible future land use patterns and plan the land and transportation together. This idea is aptly illustrated by the transit systems in Singapore and Greater Tokyo Area. Although these two regions rely on different paradigms of land and transit developments (the former is planned by central governments while the latter is developed by private companies), both paradigms make sure developers of land and transit share common interests. By sharing common interests, land use and transit developments can fit each other and minimize the costs of movements.To summarize, an ideal public transit system should fit in the present and future land use. Fitting present land use requires different types of transit for different types of land use patterns. On the other hand, fitting future land use requires understanding the relationship between land and transit, and plan them together.