Network planning and design for public transport success – and some pitfalls

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, ridership - commuting


The importance of the design and planning of network structure for public transport success is not always appreciated, and the topic is not well covered in standard texts on public transport or urban transport policy. The paper will draw attention to the key role of network planning and present some proposals for the structuring of multi-modal public transport networks in long term strategic, urban planning. The focus will be on the principles for the design of public transport networks in small and medium sized urban regions. Examples of “good” and “bad” practice will be seen in the context of the various types of institutional and legal frameworks that exist in different countries. A preliminary outline of the paper: • Introduction, including brief information about HiTrans • The rationale behind public transport network planning – why is it needed? • The different institutional contexts of PT planning, between free market competition and public monopoly • The network effect – the key to competitiveness • Key requirements and objectives for PT network development • Principles of network design in different urban situations • Main conclusions The paper is based on results from the HiTrans Interreg III study on “High quality public transport in medium sized cities and regions”. The author was main editor of the HiTrans’ “Best practice guide” on public transport network planning, presented to the public in the autumn of 2005. The practical examples are taken from European cities and elsewhere. The paper will also draw on the author’s experience from strategic network planning in the urban region of the city of Oslo and in other Norwegian towns. Project background HiTrans was an Interreg III project with Rogaland County Council in Norway as the lead partner. It was a joint study of High quality public transport for medium sized cities (with some 100.000 - 500.000 inhabitants) and their regions. The cities of the partners in the project were Edinburgh, Newcastle and Sunderland in UK, Aarhus in Denmark, Helsingborg in Sweden and Oslo, Stavanger and Sandnes in Norway. One of the five parallel “strands” in the project was a study of good practice in public transport network planning. The study work was made by a team of consultants from Civitas AS, Oslo, Transek AB and Stratega AB in Stockholm and the Transport Operations Research Group at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. The team was lead by the author. More information about HiTrans on the project website: www.hitrans.org


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.