Transportation Planning for Car Free Living: The Evolution of Zurich, Switzerland


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This is the story of the development of an alternative approach to transportation planning and how it has transformed the city. We start the story in the 1960s when the government plans for moving trams from the surface to underground was rejected in a referendum. In 1973, a similar plan was rejected. As part of this fight the activists developed a 'People's Plan for Prioritizing Transit' which still serves as the conceptual underpinning of transportation planning in Zurich to this day.

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Transportation Planning for Car Free Living: The Evolution of Zurich, Switzerland

  1. 1. Tram CityTransportation Planning in Zürich, SwitzerlandNorman W. GarrickUniversity of Connecticut
  2. 2. The Model T 1909 to 1927,the Ford Motor Companybuilt 15 million Model T cars,transformingthe economic and social fabricof the world
  3. 3. Vehicle Miles TraveledorThe World After the Model TRef for VMT ---- Model T1930sThe GreatDepression1940-45World War II1956Highway Bill1973First Oil Crisis1979Second OilCrisis1949Housing Act1992ISTEAPost 2005 ???
  4. 4. Before-World War 2After-World War 2Ref for VMT ----
  5. 5. Did the increase in traffic change our cities?Or did we have to change our cities and townsto allow for this extraordinary increase in traffic?
  6. 6. Often we focus on how the increase in traffic changed our citiesBut it is also important to understand that themassive increase in traffic in the after-war periodwould have been impossiblewithout an equally massive restructuring of our cities
  7. 7. After the Model TTransportation and Urban LivingIn Zürich, Switzerland
  8. 8. 250 cars per 1000 people25 cars per 1000 peopleMotor Vehicles per 1000Pre-World War 2Zürich had an extremely low level of motorization
  9. 9. Motor Vehicles per 1000From 1945 to 1980Zürich motorized at an astounding rate3X more than 194550X more than 1945
  10. 10. Motor Vehicles per 1000Post 1980Zürich’s increase in motorization stalled dramatically
  11. 11. Zürich Pre-World War 2
  12. 12. Zürich’s Streetcar Network 1909The current network is twice as large
  13. 13. Source: Die Disziplinierung Der Stadt Moderner Stadtebau in Zürich 1900 bis 1940 by Daniel KurzZürich was not spared modernist thinking
  14. 14. Source: Die Disziplinierung Der Stadt Moderner Stadtebau in Zürich 1900 bis 1940 by Daniel Kurz
  15. 15. Luckily the old city remains largely intact
  16. 16. Source: Die Disziplinierung Der Stadt Moderner Stadtebau in Zürich 1900 bis 1940 by Daniel KurzZürich streets were modified to better accommodate cars
  17. 17. Zürich 1945-1980
  18. 18. Population of Zürich
  19. 19. Mit Autobahnen Die Städte Retten?(With Highways the Cities are Saved?)1954 A federal commission organized to address traffic in SwitzerlandAccording to George Kammann in ‘Mit Autobahnen Die Stadte Retten?’“This commission quickly reverted to a single-minded focus on the building of anational system of Autobahns to match that of Italy, Germany and the United States. “One major idea was the building of freeways through the center of all major Swisscities, including ZürichAutobahn over the River Sihl in Zurich
  20. 20. Direct Democracy in SwitzerlandAt first these plans seemed to have the support of the cities.But as planning progressed during the late 50s and early 60s, opposition to freewaysin the cities grew substantially.This sounds exactly like the scenario playing out in the USA at the time.The key difference – the Swiss tradition of direct democracy, which required popularvote on any significant project or change to public policy.
  21. 21. 1962, No to Subways for Zürich1962 voters in both the City and the wider Canton of Zürich, rejected plans for thesubway system. In the city the margin was a resounding 61 to 39 %.Concurrent with the reject of the subway, there was also a great deal of publiccriticism about the general direction of transportation planning in the city.These plans included the proposals for the three major expressways that weredesigned to intersect in the form of a giant Y in the center of the city. Thesehighway plans were defeated in a later referendum.
  22. 22. 1973, Again with the Subways?In 1973 the city was once again back before the voters with a new plan – this timefor a joint subway (U-Bahn) and commuter rail (S-Bahn) system.
  23. 23. 1973, Once again Nein to the SubwaysOnce again this system was designed as a plan to partly replace the city’s system ofsurface trams. And once again the voters shocked the politicians by voting downthe plan – this time by a 57 % to 43 % margin.
  24. 24. Reasons the Subway was Rejected1. Subways would facilitate excessive growth of thecity or in the language of the era - theManhattanization of Zürich.2. Subways would improve longer distance travel(especially for people coming from the suburbantowns) but would disadvantage people travelingshorter distances in the city.3. Replacing the surface trams with a subterraneansystem would free up road space for cars and thusattract more cars to the center city.
  25. 25. 1970sThe Peoples Initiative for the Promotion of TransitThe rejection of the U-Bahn/S-Bahn plan encouraged the anti-subway activists todevelop their own transportation proposal in opposition to the government’s plan.This “People’s Initiative for the Promotion of Public Transit” represented animportant shift and was based on the realization that it was hard to argue againstsomething with nothing.The People’s Initiative was important in getting people to understand that theopponents of the subway plan were not against transit, but just against the specifictype of transit proposed, and the consequential intensification of the city.
  26. 26. The People’s Six Points InitiativeThe People’s Initiative was largely based on the idea of giving transitpriority over automobile traffic. It drew on the experience of the Swisscities of Bern and Basel.The Zürich plan was based on 6 points:1)Give absolute priority to buses and trams,2)Create exclusive transit lanes and traffic signal priority,3)Increase frequency of transit service,4)Expand the transit system,5)Improve interchanges between lines,6)Improve the stop areas.
  27. 27. The People’s Initiative 40 Years Later
  28. 28. “Frequency is Freedom”Jarrett Walker
  29. 29. What Makes Transit Useful(from Jarrett Walker’s “Human Transit”)1. It takes me where I want to go2. It takes me when I want to go3. It is a good use of my time4. It is a good use of my money5. It respects me in the level of safety, comfort, and amenity itprovides6. I can trust it7. It give me freedom to change my plans
  30. 30. OnlyTrams,BusesandFerriesS-bahn network not shown
  31. 31. 1992 – The S-bahn, Zürich and the Suburbs
  32. 32. S-bahn NetworkCanton Zurich +660 square miles1.4 million People of Zürich
  33. 33. Frequency is Freedom
  34. 34. Tram stops, cars wait
  35. 35. Zürich’s HegibachplatzElegant New Style Intermodal HubTrams, S-bahn, Bus
  36. 36. Transit stops always come with crosswalks
  37. 37. Transit Priority on the Langstrasse
  38. 38. How much does all this cost?Total Expenditure in 2011 = 918 million CHF
  39. 39. State SubsidySubsidy = 38% of Total ExpenditureFrom1.Kanton Zurich2.Cities and Town in KantonSubsidy is 250 CHF per Capita
  40. 40. For Operating….
  41. 41. Metering of cars entering the city
  42. 42. Parking PolicyMax in city center 0.08 spaces/1000 sq. ft(0.50 spaces/1000 sq. ft in secondarycenters)The Prime Tower complex, which includesthe tallest building in Switzerland, at 36stories, and over 700,000 sq. feet of space,opened in 2011.It has only 250 parking spaces.
  43. 43. Network of Neighborhoods in Zürich 1998Access by Foot
  44. 44. Network of Neighborhoods in Zürich 2008Access by Foot
  45. 45. The official approach to transportationin Zürich today is a direct descendant of the 1970s People’s InitiativeIt is the opposite of the approach taught in most schoolsSome city officials refer to it asSupply Driven Transportation Planning
  46. 46. One Reason for Supply Driven PlanningCars require 10 to 30 times more space than other modes
  47. 47. Motor Vehicles per 1000The result of supply driven transportation in Zürich?
  48. 48. Norman W.