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Urban transport
City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems

World’s greatest metro railways
History, design and operations

World Metros is a series by City Mayors. The series features the world's greatest metro transport systems, explains their history and describes current operations. Please write to the editor if you wish to contribute to the World Metro series. More

America debates how investment in
transportation affects the economy

22 January 2013: Highways and private motor vehicles are iconic features of American culture - the open road, the fast lane, the drive-in and drive through, the independent trucker, the soccer mom, the teen’s first car, and so on. The cultural icons are linked to the economic benefits that highways can bring. Ninety-eight per cent of US mayors point to investment in affordable, reliable surface transportation as an important part of their cities’ economic growth. More

London Underground carries
three million people every day

14 January 2013: Heritage and modernisation are the watchwords for London’s underground rail network, the ‘tube’, as it reaches its 150th anniversary. The world’s first underground railway, between Paddington and Farringdon Street was opened by the Metropolitan Railway in December 1863. Today, London Underground carries three million passengers a day across 275 stations on its 253 mile network. More

Singapore is investing billions
to expand its metro rail system

30 July 2012: Singapore began building its Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in the 1980s. Since the initial 6km section opened in 1987 the investment has continued as the population has grown and the network had reached 167km in 2011. New sections will open every year up to 2017 and the approved investment programme envisages a system of 275km before 2025. More

Americans may be developing
a liking for public transportation

30 May 2012: Last year the use of public transportation in the US was at its second-highest level since 1957 and, according to the American Public Transportation Association, this year could set a new record. What excites supporters of public transport most is that increased use is happening right across the country. More

Seoul Subway: One of the world’s
most advanced transport systems

31 March 2012: Seoul began building a metro network in 1971, with the first section of line opening in 1974. After a dramatic expansion in the 1990s it continued to grow significantly in the first decade of the new century though not without controversy. Unusually, the component parts of the metro and urban rail network are operated by a multiplicity of agencies and companies. More

Britain’s rural community rail projects
increasingly popular with passengers

9 January 2012: Whilst mainland Europe leads on local and regional government commissioning of rail services, the UK leads on community engagement. In the last decade close to 30 community rail partnerships have been established across the less well-served areas of the country and 18 of these are now backed by designation within the Government’s 2005 community rail strategy. More

Guangzhou Metro: From nought to
1.2 billion passengers in 20 years

24 October 2011: In the early 1990’s Guangzhou, China’s third-largest city, was becoming dysfunctional as economic and population growth was matched by pollution and gridlock growth. But the construction of the Guangzhou Metro has made the city one of the most mobility friendly metropolises in the world. More

US mayors lobby federal government
for fully funded transportation policies

13 October 2011: In September 2011, a group of 50 US mayors traveled to Washington, DC to speak with federal officials about funding for transportation projects. The nation’s omnibus transportation bill was set to expire in ten days, and the mayors, led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, and Mayor Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minnesota, lobbied for a “comprehensive, fully funded” successor. More

Madrid Metro: A thoroughly
modern urban rail system

2 August 2011: Madrid has Europe’s fastest growing metro and urban rail systems. The size of the metro has doubled during the past fifteen years. Strong political leadership at city and regional level ensured a series of investment plans were funded and delivered. By mid-2011 the system had grown to 294 km of route on 12 lines with 296 stations and now is the sixth-longest metro railway in the world. More

European cities abandon
demand-driven car parking

23 May 2011: Several European cities are in vanguard of transforming car parking management. Whilst some cities still operate demand and supply attitudes, a recent report says, overall the era of expanding supply of free or cheap parking has been re-assessed in Europe in favour of strategies which are intended to limit parking provision to levels which the roads can accommodate and is attuned to satisfactory air quality levels. More

Canada slow to build
high-speed rail routes

12 March 2011: Since its origins in Italy in the late 1930s high speed rail, also known as HSR, has come a long way. Today there are 20 countries around the world with a high speed rail system, but Canada, home to one of the world’s leading train manufacturers in Bombardier, is not one of them. In fact, Canada is the only country in the G8 group (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, USA) without at least one HSR or express line. More

Montréal city bike
system goes global

4 October 2010: Rarely does a city make a name for itself by furnishing to other cities bike systems manufactured by the municipal government, but that’s exactly what Montréal has done with its Public Bike System Company, also known as Bixi bike share. Now that the service is well-established in its place of origin, the city has been exporting its bikes prodigiously: last August, it secured major contracts with London and Boston, each of which have received thousands of bikes and several hundred bike stations this summer. More

Ahmedabad is the first city in India
to adopt a Bus Rapid Transit system

17 March 2010: In October 2009, Ahmedabad - with a population of 4.5 million the largest city in the state of Gujarat - inaugurated the first 12 kilometres of its public transport program Janmarg. It is India's first true Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT).

Latin American cities: pioneers
of Bus Rapid Transit systems

20 January 2010: Over the past fifteen years, cities throughout Latin America have achieved a modest, yet significant, revolution in urban design through the adoption and refinement of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. Promising the benefits of developed world transit systems at developing world prices. More

US public bus systems face
rising demand and deficits

20 December 2009: Busses are a common, if unglamorous, feature of US cities. Each day they transport over 3.5 million people from home to work, according to the US Census Bureau. About 20 per cent more people rely on busses for their daily commute than all other forms of mass transit combined, including trains, subways, light rail, and trolleys. Busses are the workhorses of American public transportation, yet they struggle financially. More

Mexico City’s Metrobus system
perfect for cash-strapped cities

17 December 2009: A prestigious award has been conferred on Mexico City’s Metrobus new public transport system for its significant contribution to improving both air quality and generally making life easier for hard-pressed citizens. Bus journey times have been halved and carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 80,000 tons a year. More

US car parks amount to
half the size of Belgium

31 August 2009: Studies show that there are approximately three parking spaces for each vehicle in the United States. This amounts to a parking lot half the size of Belgium. New parking lots and garages take away from the ambiance and viability of downtowns and neighborhoods. They take up land that could be used for a new building or park. They force buildings to be designed to accommodate cars. More

European cities introduce
new tram-train technology

3 June 2009: Interest in deploying the tram-trains concept is growing across Europe during the present period. As all tiers of government grapple with the challenges of beating congestion whilst also cutting carbon emissions this approach, which combines proven technologies, is attractive. By combining heavy rail routes with tramways they allow passengers to access key destinations in city centres from suburbs without making a change and attract people who previously used cars thus cutting congestion and emissions. More

Berlin U-Bahn: rebuilding after
100 years of turbulent history

28 February 2009: Berlin’s Untergrundbahn (or U-Bahn) is a vibrant part of the German capital’s cityscape and something of a paradise for modernists. Begun in 1896, its history closely follows that of Germany itself, with two world wars and the post-war division of the city affecting its development. Today the network carries 1.4m passengers each day across nine lines serving 170 stations in the city. More

Saving energy by making use
of eyes' sensibility to contrast

5 November 2008: We are consuming, and wasting, vast amounts of energy. This must be changed. My idea involves changing a 60-year-old concept in the way that traffic lights work all over the world – and how they waste money and energy. What follows is a summary of the work undertaken in mechanics and electricity, which won approbation at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. More

Personal Rapid Transit on
verge of becoming viable

20 July 2008: It took a long time and the personal commitment of a president of the United States for the concept of travel to the moon to be made a reality, and there were many who doubted it would ever happen. Personal rapid transit (PRT), also called Personal automated transport (PAT), has had a similarly long gestation, and the concept was perhaps oversold in the 1960s when, in the UK, drawings were published of clumsy elevated structures cutting through Central London and looking almost as intrusive as the six-lane expressways to which they were claimed to be an alternative. More

London’s canal network offers opportunity
for viable and sustainable freight transport

30 June 2008: Back in August 1981 three barges loaded with lime juice and pith in 45 gallon barrels made their way up the Thames. At the helm on that day was a colleague of mine, Gerry Heward. He was about to have a date with history. At Brentford in west London the tiny fleet passed through the tidal lock and onto the 200 year old Grand Union Canal. From here they travelled 50 kilometres north to Hemel Hempstead. At Rose’s factory, the barges unloaded their cargo so it could be processed into lime juice cordial and marmalade. More

Toll bridges a simpler alternative
to Bloomberg’s road pricing idea

7 January 2008: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal for ‘congestion pricing’ – a fee imposed on driving in Manhattan’s central business district during prime hours – has made it safe at last to discuss traffic solutions that were previously off limits. Just last week, New York City Hall announced a crackdown on the official placards that allow tens of thousands of public employees to park free on the street – a topic long avoided by those in charge. More

US cities realise that
cycling makes sense

30 September 2007: With more motor vehicles, roads, and parking lots than any nation on earth, the United States is renowned as the land of the automobile. Many cities have more registered automobiles than residents. The monthly car payment for American families often exceeds its mortgage payment. But in spite of America’s love affair with the car, many US mayors are now striving to make their cities more bicycle-friendly. More

London’s transport network suffers from
under-investment and muddled strategy

5 August, 2007: A key element of the long awaited modernisation of London’s underground rail network, the so-called Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) deal has been behind many headlines, not least when Metronet, one of the consortiums set up to undertake the work, collapsed in July 2007. Designed to transfer risk to the private sector in exchange for much-needed improvement to London’s creaking underground infrastructure, the process has been roundly criticised since the world’s largest public private partnership deal was first mooted. More

TransMetro set to end chaotic
commuting in Guatemala City

16 June 2007: For Guatemala City’s commuters public transport is in a state of crisis, with daily rampant crimes committed against them inside and outside the city’s antiquated buses. Recklessness by bus drivers adds to the problem. But hopefully, things are set to change. More

New Yorkers mostly hostile to
suggested congestion charge

11 June 2007: When big city mayors, business leaders, and environmentalists gathered recently in New York City to discuss climate change, at the heart of their talks was the effects of carbon emissions on the environment. More

Solving transport issues has
highest priority for megacities

16 May 2007: Environmental issues play a central role in urban planning. However, in emerging megacities, infrastructure growth often takes precedence over the environment. This is just one of the key findings of a survey of 522 decision makers from 25 megacities. Solving transportation issues has the highest priority in the cities surveyed, and air pollution is seen as the main environmental issue. More

European cities commit themselves
to hydrogen as bus fuel of the future
5 October 2006: Five European cities have committed themselves to work together to develop and procure hydrogen fuel cell buses as the future for clean green bus fleets. The buses, which only emit water vapour and not harmful emissions, have been successfully tested by German automotive company DaimlerChrysler in several European cities. At a ceremony at the European Union in Brussels, representatives from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg and London signed a memorandum of understanding to make the technology commercially viable. More

Road tolls prove a success
in cities around the world

London’s congestion charge is probably the best-known in the world, but it has not been the most successful. That honour appears to go to Durham, a city in northern England noted for its cathedral and castle. Durham introduced a cordon-based pricing scheme in 2002, the first in the United Kingdom, and a year before London. More

Melbourne Mayor calls for bold ideas
to manage the city’s transport system

In an editorial article to explain the thinking behind the City of Melbourne’s recently published draft Transport Strategy, Lord Mayor John So writes that far from being anti-car, Melbourne had been car friendly and the city was committed to welcoming people by all means of transport. However, the Mayor makes it clear that Melbourne’s existing road system was reaching saturation. “Road congestion is costing our city about $2.7 billion a year, now. If nothing is done, by 2015 this congestion could cost around $6 billion annually,” he writes. More

Urban traffic congestion costs
the USA $63 billion per annum

Congestion continues to grow in urban areas of the US. Despite a slow growth in jobs and travel in 2003, congestion caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and 8.7 billion litres of wasted fuel, an increase of 79 million hours and 262 million litres from 2002 to a total cost of more than $63 billion for the year. The solutions to this problem will require commitment by the public and by national, state and local officials to increase investment levels and identify projects, programs and policies that can achieve mobility goals. More

British parliament criticises government
over approach to light railway schemes

The excessively complicated design, build, operate and maintain contracts for light rail schemes in England has rendered such schemes unmanageable and of poor value to the public.  This was among several conclusions by the British House of Commons Public Accounts Committee from an inquiry as to why so few schemes have been completed satisfactorily.  "The Department for Transport has persisted in an arm's length approach towards light rail," said committee chairman Edward Leigh. More

Some 4.5 million people use the 100-year-old
New York City Subway every business day

Over the past 100 years, the New York City Subway has evolved and grown from a nine-mile line to a four-borough system consisting of 26 lines and 468 stations. Carried on upwards of 600 trains, more than 4.5 million people depend on it each business day to reach their destinations. More

London’s congestion charge
cuts traffic jams by 30 per cent

London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s central London congestion charging system celebrated its first anniversary in February 2004 to general acclaim at home and abroad. In spite of the prophets of doom and even some of its supporters back in 2003, the centre of the UK capital has achieved and maintained its figure of 30 per cent fewer traffic delays inside the charging zone compared with the period before charging was introduced. More

German Greens call for city
tolls to reduce road traffic

After the success of London's congestion charge, which celebrated its first anniversary in February 2004, the idea is catching on in Europe, and particularly in Germany. Green party members throughout the country are pressing for its introduction. More

Cities must reduce road
traffic to save young lives

The consequences of transport for health affect most of the population, not just drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. In Europe, air pollution accounts for about 100,000 premature deaths in adults annually; emissions from road traffic make up a significant share of this pollution. Each year, traffic accidents still kill about 120,000 people (a third of them aged under 25 years), and cause some 2.5 million injuries. More




If you think your mayor has been outstanding, nominate him or her now for the 2014 World Mayor Prize


World Mayor 2014:
Candidates sought

The City Mayors Foundation invites you to nominate a candidate for the 2014 World Mayor Prize. The Prize is awarded every two years to a mayor who has made outstanding contributions to his / her community and has developed a vision for urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world.

Previous winners and runners-up include the mayors of Bilbao, Perth, Mexico City, Oklahoma City, Cape Town, Zurich, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Athens, Mississauga and Tirana. The World Mayor Project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles nationally and internationally.

During the first round, suitable candidates may be suggested until the middle of May 2014. A shortlist of 25 nominees will be announced in June.

Please nominate your candidate for World Mayor 2014 now.