Solving the Public Transport Dilemma of Smaller or Second-Tier Cities Through Automation

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedings


Public transport systems have recently gained momentum as an important factor in increasing sustainability in cities. Metro systems, a key component, can be found in most metropolitan areas. In contrast, only few smaller cities – often referred to as "second-tier cities" – have metro systems as part of their public transport offering. Traditionally, the significant investment necessary to construct and operate has made this economically unviable. Automation, however, is found to be key in enabling the adoption of metro systems to local conditions while at the same time providing reliable and timely service for its users. This paper aims to identify the opportunities and challenges of automated metro lines for smaller cities. The analysis will be based on secondary data from existing metro projects. Reference will be made to worldwide projects with a focus on smaller European metro systems. The authors will analyse opportunities and challenges of automation by looking at infrastructure and train size, construction and operational costs, safety, efficiency, sustainability and the impact on the living standards of its users. The results show similarities and overarching themes in the analysed European metro systems. In particular, the authors identified three key factors: flexibility, sustainability and quality of life. This paper provides research into automated metro systems and aims to invite debate around this important infrastructure topic for future studies. It further discusses implications for introducing automated metro-systems in smaller urban areas to facilitate discourse between all stakeholders of such projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Green Deal Challenges and Solutions for Mobility and Logistics in Cities
Subtitle of host publication19th European Transport Congress of the EPTS Foundation e.V : October 7 - 8, 2021 : Maribor, Slovenia Conference Proceedings
EditorsTomislav Letnik
PublisherUniversity of Maribor, Faculty of Civil Engineering
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-961-95633-0-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

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