Water Transit and Ferry-Oriented Development in Sweden: Comparisons with System Trends in Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - australasia, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - ferry, mode - rail, planning - integration, land use - planning, ridership - growth


Water transit, ferry-oriented development (FOD), land use planning


Water transit is increasingly becoming an option for cities looking to expand their public transport network and provide an alternative to land-based transport congestion. But there are challenges in realising a functional urban ferry network, especially in Sweden which faces land use policy and weather-related constraints. This paper has three related aims: i) to compare the development of water transit in Swedish and Australian cities, ii) to compare changes in patronage over time, and iii) to analyze the role of ferry-oriented development (FOD) and planning policy effects on water transit development. Our approach is exploratory and comparative, and we use the cases of Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden with comparison to Brisbane and Sydney in Australia. Patronage figures indicate that in both countries, water transit systems are a small part of the total public transport network, from 0.5% of total public transport trips in Stockholm to 3.7% in Brisbane. However, there has been modest growth in patronage that in relative terms has exceeded that of urban rail and bus services in all cities except Sydney. Integration of water transit with land use plans in FOD varies, with Brisbane and Sydney embarking on large-scale waterfront and transit plans focused on economic development. In Sweden integration with land use remains in early stages, with ad hoc terminal location and restrictive land use being limiting factors, especially in Stockholm. There are also conflicting strategies toward FOD in Gothenburg. Better conceptualization of land use implications for development of water transit planning is therefore suggested.


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