With reference to transport management in urban areas, discuss the extent to which sustainability can be achieved (40 marks)

Authors Avatar by samlarlhamhotmailcom (student)

Sam Larlham 13AMA                GEOG3: World Cities

With reference to either waste or transport management in urban areas, discuss the extent to which sustainability can be achieved (40 marks)

Sustainability refers to meeting the needs of current and future generations, whilst preserving the environment. The management of transport in urban areas has become a more pressing issue in recent years, due to increased car ownership (for example: in the UK there are now 30 million more cars on the roads than there were in 1950) and a greater awareness of greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change. The differing natures of transport management in LEDCs and MEDCs will be shown, whilst also considering the role of policy and transport integration in stimulating public participation, which in turn leads to sustainability.

A country’s level of development and wealth can greatly influence its approach to transport management. In MEDCs, it may be important to consider financial incentives when aiming to generate public participation, as money is likely to be the common denominator when compared to LEDCs, where more crude measures, say, livestock, may be used as a means of exchange. The UK is an example of an MEDC that attempted to use money to incentivise use of more sustainable public transport modes, through the introduction of the London Congestion Charge in February 2003. This is a fee paid by motor vehicles upon entering central London, which applies from 7am-6pm on weekdays and is set at £10 per day. By 2007, Transport for London estimates that the charge led to roughly a 5% annual decline in the use of chargeable vehicles, which, whilst demonstrating a positive effect, was not great enough for the scheme to be considered successful in achieving environmental sustainability.

One reason behind this was a lack of financial integration with alternative modes of transport. In this case, the main alternative mode was rail. In order to be integrated, it was important for this option to be made cheap in comparison to the charge, as well as equally convenient. However, a lack of available parking at train stations meant that this mode was more expensive (stations on the outskirts of London charge up to £6 for a day’s parking) and poorly integrated with regard to convenience. Therefore, it appears that either the congestion charge was set too low, or policy makers did not make efforts to make rail travel more affordable and/or convenient. As well as this, the charge has yet to be raised in the past 10 years, despite consistent inflation (making £10 much cheaper in real terms); therefore the system is not integrated with the economic climate, and will become less effective over time unless changes are made. However, given that this was in central London, questions could be raised as to whether financial motives were likely to be effective in changing people’s attitudes. Given that the area affected by the charge is predominantly wealthy, it may be the case that convenience and efficiency are far more important to people’s attitudes than money; hence many were willing to pay £10, as the car was the most convenient mode. Therefore, it appears that for sustainability to be achieved, transport management must seek to make systems as integrated and convenient as possible in order to foster public participation, regardless of the level of development.

Join now!

A contrasting approach in an LEDC was seen in Mexico City, which also aimed to reduce car use. This was a scheme known as “Don’t Drive Today” whereby the area’s residents were assigned, by number plate, a day where they were prohibited from using their cars. This scheme begun in 1990 and was recently extended to include Saturdays, as the city focussed on lower air pollution to avoid health issues such as a higher incidence of respiratory disease. The scheme is estimated to reduce the number of cars on Mexico City’s roads by 20% on a given day, reducing ...

This is a preview of the whole essay