Public transport, urban form and urban structure: the example of Brisbane's tram system

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, place - australasia, mode - tram/light rail, land use - impacts, land use - planning, policy - sustainable


tramways, path dependence, Brisbane, urban form, urban structure


The form and structure of a city are strongly influenced by its transport system, although this influence is mutual rather than unidirectional. This paper explores the historical interactions between Brisbane's urban form and urban structure on the one hand and its tramway system on the other hand. The paper identifies a number of financial, institutional, political and related factors that determined the development trajectory of the tramway system from its start in the 1880s; but similar factors led to its eventual demise in 1969. By showing how Brisbane's tramways developed and the intimate connections of this system to the changing shape and structure of the city the research reinforces the importance of understanding the links between transport and land use, as well as highlighting the potential role of transport technologies in shaping more sustainable cities.


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