The potential of public transport during an “urban renaissance”



The foreseeable socio-demographic change in the coming decades offers new chances as well as challenges for public transport. In the last 20 years, public transport has achieved a high level of quality, which in turn has given it a positive image among the population: A service-oriented and well-functioning public transport is widely perceived as a valid alternative to private cars.

In addition, there is now empirical evidence indicating a new urbanization development trend back into the cities. Inner-city quarters are back to being considered an attractive place of residence because of their closeness to numerous possible activities. Specific groups of people choose to live in urban areas (“conscious city dwellers”). It is, however, largely unclear which groups these will be in the future. The quality of public transport is undoubtedly a positive location factor, but it is uncertain to what extent different public transport modes factor into the choice for an urban residence and how the urban renaissance will affect future public transport demand quantitatively and qualitatively.

Aims of the project:

This research project aimed to assess the potentials and risks of public transport against the background of an urban renaissance. It sought to determine how and to what extent this renaissance can contribute to public transport demand and which strategies of urban and transport planning can influence this demand in either direction.

Further aims against this background were:

  • Showing the potentials, conditions, and trends both for an urban renaissance and for the future development of public transport
  • Characterising the group of conscious city dwellers, particularly regarding their mobility behaviour and their attitude towards public transport
  • Identifying motives and requirements of conscious city dwellers regarding their place of residence in general and specifically regarding public transport
  • Analysing the interdependencies between public transport offers of different quality (S-Bahn, city trains, bus, etc.) and the choice of the place of residence
  • Defining different scenarios consisting of urban and transport planning interventions (offer strategies and development strategies in public transport, especially target-group specific measures such as mobility management; strategies for the urban development of areas)
  • Assessing the scenarios and quantifying their impact; assessing the effectiveness of the intervention regarding the strengthening of cities and public transport by different area types; assessing the applicability to other cities

Project contents and structure:

The project focused on conducting an extensive primary study on the behaviour and motives of conscious city dwellers in three model cities. The future development of the urban renaissance and public transport will likely differ from city to city. We therefore chose model regions which differ from one another in their structure and transport system in order to cover a wide spectrum of possible developments.

The model cities selected were analysed in two phases. In the first analysis the potentials of an urban renaissance were quantified based on available data and results (demographic patterns, net migration rate, population forecasting, space available). In the second analysis, we interviewed people who moved into the respective region by mail (motive study) regarding the following aspects:

  • places of residence and moving house
  • desired places of residence/deciding factors of choosing a place of residence
  • motives for choosing a place of residence
  • equipment of the households with mobility instruments and mobility behaviour
  • attitude to transport modes (psychological approach)

We then developed an impact model and an evaluation method to evaluate different scenarios for each of the model cities. Based on the evaluation method, we depicted and assessed the interdependencies between the quality of the location and the resulting corridors of the expected public transport development during an urban renaissance. Depicting the impact of these influences on the expected demand for public transport was the main focus of the analysis. Based on the evaluation of the scenarios, we finally derived recommendations for a public transport strategy during the urban renaissance. This included concepts for offers as well as targeted marketing in accordance with an extensive mobility management.

Commissioned by:

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI)

Project within the research programme on improving municipal traffic conditions (Verbesserung der Verkehrsverhältnisse in den Gemeinden) (FoPS), FE No. 73.336

Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR)

Project partners:

STRATA Gesellschaft für Daten- und Informationsmanagement mbH, Karlsruhe

Project duration:

November 2009 – March 2010

Contacts at the ISB:

Dipl.-Ing. André Bruns, Dipl.-Ing. Jan Benden