Developing new urban public transport systems *1: An irrational decision-making process

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, place - urban


public transport, light rail, bus, urban development


The decision-making process for planning new urban public transport systems in the UK is examined by studying 11 new and planned systems. The objectives of building the systems relate to transport and development issues. A number of key factors are taken into account during the decision-making process: forecast demand, image, deregulation of buses, technological innovation, private sector involvement and the funding mechanism. The requirement for proven technology and the forecast demand for the systems reduces the choice to one of light rail or bus. The effects of bus deregulation, funding and image, essentially reduce that choice to light rail or nothing. Cost should be kept low, which suggests a bus based system, but current legislation favours more expensive light rail systems. The conclusion is that although transport planners make rational decisions within the current political framework, the framework, and therefore some of the decisions, are not rational.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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