Planning for structural transit in low density environments: the case of Canberra, Australia


Cameron Gordon

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, place - australasia, land use - urban density, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail


urban mass transit, land use planning, density planning, light rail, bus rapid transport


Canberra, the capital of Australia, is a city with two modes of mechanised passenger travel: traditional bus and automobile. Canberra's population of 352,000 is relatively spread out with a low overall average population density. Recently, the local government (the government of the Australian Capital Territory) submitted a bid to the Australian federal government to fund a light-rail system for the city. This paper examines the issues of serving low and medium density communities with light rail, using Canberra as a case study. The paper qualitatively and quantitatively outlines the socioeconomic and demographic profile of Canberra, with a focus on centres of population and economic density; reviews the literature on Light-Rail Transit (LRT) and other ‘structural’ transit, which includes significant fixed capital investment such as Bus-Rapid Transit (BRT) for low-to-medium density areas; and analyses what an LRT in Canberra would look like if it is to be financially and operationally sustainable.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor & Francis, copyright remains with them.