Essay On Local Transport System In Human

For other uses, see Transport (disambiguation).

"Transportation" redirects here. For other uses, see Transportation (disambiguation).

Transport or transportation is the movement of humans, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, land (rail and road), water, cable, pipeline and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles and operations. Transport is important because it enables trade between people, which is essential for the development of civilizations.

Transport infrastructure consists of the fixed installations including roads, railways, airways, waterways, canals and pipelines and terminals such as airports, railway stations, bus stations, warehouses, trucking terminals, refueling depots (including fueling docks and fuel stations) and seaports. Terminals may be used both for interchange of passengers and cargo and for maintenance.

Vehicles traveling on these networks may include automobiles, bicycles, buses, trains, trucks, people, helicopters, watercraft, spacecraft and aircraft.

Operations deal with the way the vehicles are operated, and the procedures set for this purpose including financing, legalities, and policies. In the transport industry, operations and ownership of infrastructure can be either public or private, depending on the country and mode.

Passenger transport may be public, where operators provide scheduled services, or private. Freight transport has become focused on containerization, although bulk transport is used for large volumes of durable items. Transport plays an important part in economic growth and globalization, but most types cause air pollution and use large amounts of land. While it is heavily subsidized by governments, good planning of transport is essential to make traffic flow and restrain urban sprawl.


Main article: History of transport

Humans' first means of transport involved walking, running and swimming. The domestication of animals introduced a new way to lay the burden of transport on more powerful creatures, allowing the hauling of heavier loads, or humans riding animals for greater speed and duration. Inventions such as the wheel and the sled helped make animal transport more efficient through the introduction of vehicles. Water transport, including rowed and sailed vessels, dates back to time immemorial, and was the only efficient way to transport large quantities or over large distances prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The first forms of road transport involved animals, such as horses (domesticated in the 4th or 3rd millennium BCE), oxen (from about 8000 BCE)[1] or humans carrying goods over dirt tracks that often followed gametrails. Many early civilizations, including Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization, constructed paved roads. In classical antiquity, the Persian and Roman empires built stone-paved roads to allow armies to travel quickly. Deep roadbeds of crushed stone underneath kept such roads dry. The medieval Caliphate later built tar-paved roads. The first watercraft were canoes cut out from tree trunks. Early water transport was accomplished with ships that were either rowed or used the wind for propulsion, or a combination of the two. The importance of water has led to most cities that grew up as sites for trading being located on rivers or on the sea-shore, often at the intersection of two bodies of water. Until the Industrial Revolution, transport remained slow and costly, and production and consumption gravitated as close to each other as feasible.

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century saw a number of inventions fundamentally change transport. With telegraphy, communication became instant and independent of the transport of physical objects. The invention of the steam engine, closely followed by its application in rail transport, made land transport independent of human or animal muscles. Both speed and capacity increased rapidly, allowing specialization through manufacturing being located independently of natural resources. The 19th century also saw the development of the steam ship, which sped up global transport.

With the development of the combustion engine and the automobile around 1900, road transport became more competitive again, and mechanical private transport originated. The first "modern" highways were constructed during the 19th century[citation needed] with macadam. Later, tarmac and concrete became the dominant paving materials. In 1903 the Wright brothers demonstrated the first successful controllable airplane, and after World War I (1914–1918) aircraft became a fast way to transport people and express goods over long distances.[2]

After World War II (1939–1945) the automobile and airlines took higher shares of transport, reducing rail and water to freight and short-haul passenger services.[3] Scientific spaceflight began in the 1950s, with rapid growth until the 1970s, when interest dwindled. In the 1950s the introduction of containerization gave massive efficiency gains in freight transport, fostering globalization.[4] International air travel became much more accessible in the 1960s with the commercialization of the jet engine. Along with the growth in automobiles and motorways, rail and water transport declined in relative importance. After the introduction of the Shinkansen in Japan in 1964, high-speed rail in Asia and Europe started attracting passengers on long-haul routes away from airlines.[3]

Early in U.S. history,[when?]privatejoint-stockcorporations owned most aqueducts, bridges, canals, railroads, roads, and tunnels. Most such transportation infrastructure came under government control in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in the nationalization of inter-city passenger rail-service with the establishment of Amtrak. Recently,[when?] however, a movement to privatize roads and other infrastructure has gained some[quantify] ground and adherents.[5]

Further information: Timeline of transportation technology


Main article: Mode of transport

A mode of transport is a solution that makes use of a particular type of vehicle, infrastructure, and operation. The transport of a person or of cargo may involve one mode or several of the modes, with the latter case being called intermodal or multimodal transport. Each mode has its own advantages and disadvantages, and will be chosen for a trip on the basis of cost, capability, and route.


Main article: Human-powered transport

Human powered transport, a form of sustainable transportation, is the transport of people and/or goods using human muscle-power, in the form of walking, running and swimming. Modern technology has allowed machines to enhance human power. Human-powered transport remains popular for reasons of cost-saving, leisure, physical exercise, and environmentalism; it is sometimes the only type available, especially in underdeveloped or inaccessible regions.

Although humans are able to walk without infrastructure, the transport can be enhanced through the use of roads, especially when using the human power with vehicles, such as bicycles and inline skates. Human-powered vehicles have also been developed for difficult environments, such as snow and water, by watercraft rowing and skiing; even the air can be entered with human-powered aircraft.


Main article: Animal-powered transport

Animal-powered transport is the use of working animals for the movement of people and commodities. Humans may ride some of the animals directly, use them as pack animals for carrying goods, or harness them, alone or in teams, to pull sleds or wheeled vehicles.


Main article: Aviation

A fixed-wing aircraft, commonly called airplane, is a heavier-than-air craft where movement of the air in relation to the wings is used to generate lift. The term is used to distinguish this from rotary-wing aircraft, where the movement of the lift surfaces relative to the air generates lift. A gyroplane is both fixed-wing and rotary wing. Fixed-wing aircraft range from small trainers and recreational aircraft to large airliners and military cargo aircraft.

Two things necessary for aircraft are air flow over the wings for lift and an area for landing. The majority of aircraft also need an airport with the infrastructure to receive maintenance, restocking, refueling and for the loading and unloading of crew, cargo, and passengers. While the vast majority of aircraft land and take off on land, some are capable of take-off and landing on ice, snow, and calm water.

The aircraft is the second fastest method of transport, after the rocket. Commercial jets can reach up to 955 kilometres per hour (593 mph), single-engine aircraft 555 kilometres per hour (345 mph). Aviation is able to quickly transport people and limited amounts of cargo over longer distances, but incurs high costs and energy use; for short distances or in inaccessible places helicopters can be used.[6] As of April 28, 2009, The Guardian article notes that, "the WHO estimates that up to 500,000 people are on planes at any time."[7]


Main article: Ground transportation

Land transport covers all land-based transportation systems that provide for the movement of people, goods and services. Land transport plays a vital role in linking communities to each other. Land transport is a key factor in urban planning. It consists of 2 kinds, rail and road.


Main article: Rail transport

Rail transport is where a train runs along a set of two parallel steelrails, known as a railway or railroad. The rails are anchored perpendicular to ties (or sleepers) of timber, concrete or steel, to maintain a consistent distance apart, or gauge. The rails and perpendicular beams are placed on a foundation made of concrete or compressed earth and gravel in a bed of ballast. Alternative methods include monorail and maglev.

A train consists of one or more connected vehicles that operate on the rails. Propulsion is commonly provided by a locomotive, that hauls a series of unpowered cars, that can carry passengers or freight. The locomotive can be powered by steam, diesel or by electricity supplied by trackside systems. Alternatively, some or all the cars can be powered, known as a multiple unit. Also, a train can be powered by horses, cables, gravity, pneumatics and gas turbines. Railed vehicles move with much less friction than rubber tires on paved roads, making trains more energy efficient, though not as efficient as ships.

Intercity trains are long-haul services connecting cities;[8] modern high-speed rail is capable of speeds up to 350 km/h (220 mph), but this requires specially built track. Regional and commuter trains feed cities from suburbs and surrounding areas, while intra-urban transport is performed by high-capacity tramways and rapid transits, often making up the backbone of a city's public transport. Freight trains traditionally used box cars, requiring manual loading and unloading of the cargo. Since the 1960s, container trains have become the dominant solution for general freight, while large quantities of bulk are transported by dedicated trains.


Main article: Road transport

A road is an identifiable route, way or path between two or more places.[9] Roads are typically smoothed, paved, or otherwise prepared to allow easy travel;[10] though they need not be, and historically many roads were simply recognizable routes without any formal construction or maintenance.[11] In urban areas, roads may pass through a city or village and be named as streets, serving a dual function as urban space easement and route.[12]

The most common road vehicle is the automobile; a wheeled passenger vehicle that carries its own motor. Other users of roads include buses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. As of 2010, there were 1.015 billion automobiles worldwide. Road transport offers a complete freedom to road users to transfer the vehicle from one lane to the other and from one road to another according to the need and convenience. This flexibility of changes in location, direction, speed, and timings of travel is not available to other modes of transport. It is possible to provide door to door service only by road transport.

Automobiles provide high flexibility with low capacity, but require high energy and area use, and are the main source of noise and air pollution in cities; buses allow for more efficient travel at the cost of reduced flexibility.[13] Road transport by truck is often the initial and final stage of freight transport.


Main article: Ship transport

Water transport is movement by means of a watercraft—such as a barge, boat, ship or sailboat—over a body of water, such as a sea, ocean, lake, canal or river. The need for buoyancy is common to watercraft, making the hull a dominant aspect of its construction, maintenance and appearance.

In the 19th century, the first steam ships were developed, using a steam engine to drive a paddle wheel or propeller to move the ship. The steam was produced in a boiler using wood or coal and fed through a steam external combustion engine. Now most ships have an internal combustion engine using a slightly refined type of petroleum called bunker fuel. Some ships, such as submarines, use nuclear power to produce the steam. Recreational or educational craft still use wind power, while some smaller craft use internal combustion engines to drive one or more propellers, or in the case of jet boats, an inboard water jet. In shallow draft areas, hovercraft are propelled by large pusher-prop fans. (See Marine propulsion.)

Although it is slow compared to other transportation, modern sea transport is a highly efficient method of transporting large quantities of goods. Commercial vessels, nearly 35,000 in number, carried 7.4 billion tons of cargo in 2007.[14] Transport by water is significantly less costly than air transport for transcontinental shipping;[15]short sea shipping and ferries remain viable in coastal areas.[16][17]

Other modes[edit]

Pipeline transport sends goods through a pipe; most commonly liquid and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes can also send solid capsules using compressed air. For liquids/gases, any chemically stable liquid or gas can be sent through a pipeline. Short-distance systems exist for sewage, slurry, water and beer, while long-distance networks are used for petroleum and natural gas.

Cable transport is a broad mode where vehicles are pulled by cables instead of an internal power source. It is most commonly used at steep gradient. Typical solutions include aerial tramway, elevators, escalator and ski lifts; some of these are also categorized as conveyor transport.

Spaceflight is transport out of Earth's atmosphere into outer space by means of a spacecraft. While large amounts of research have gone into technology, it is rarely used except to put satellites into orbit, and conduct scientific experiments. However, man has landed on the moon, and probes have been sent to all the planets of the Solar System.

Suborbital spaceflight is the fastest of the existing and planned transport systems from a place on Earth to a distant "other place" on Earth. Faster transport could be achieved through part of a low Earth orbit, or following that trajectory even faster using the propulsion of the rocket to steer it.



Main article: Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the fixed installations that allow a vehicle to operate. It consists of a roadway, a terminal, and facilities for parking and maintenance. For rail, pipeline, road and cable transport, the entire way the vehicle travels must be constructed. Air and watercraft are able to avoid this, since the airway and seaway do not need to be constructed. However, they require fixed infrastructure at terminals.

Terminals such as airports, ports, and stations, are locations where passengers and freight can be transferred from one vehicle or mode to another. For passenger transport, terminals are integrating different modes to allow riders, who are interchanging between modes, to take advantage of each mode's benefits. For instance, airport rail links connect airports to the city centers and suburbs. The terminals for automobiles are parking lots, while buses and coaches can operate from simple stops.[18] For freight, terminals act as transshipment points, though some cargo is transported directly from the point of production to the point of use.

The financing of infrastructure can either be public or private. Transport is often a natural monopoly and a necessity for the public; roads, and in some countries railways and airports are funded through taxation. New infrastructure projects can have high costs and are often financed through debt. Many infrastructure owners, therefore, impose usage fees, such as landing fees at airports, or toll plazas on roads. Independent of this, authorities may impose taxes on the purchase or use of vehicles. Because of poor forecasting and overestimation of passenger numbers by planners, there is frequently a benefits shortfall for transport infrastructure projects.[19]


Main article: Vehicle

A vehicle is a non-living device that is used to move people and goods. Unlike the infrastructure, the vehicle moves along with the cargo and riders. Unless being pulled/pushed by a cable or muscle-power, the vehicle must provide its own propulsion; this is most commonly done through a steam engine, combustion engine, electric motor, a jet engine or a rocket, though other means of propulsion also exist. Vehicles also need a system of converting the energy into movement; this is most commonly done through wheels, propellers and pressure.

Vehicles are most commonly staffed by a driver. However, some systems, such as people movers and some rapid transits, are fully automated. For passenger transport, the vehicle must have a compartment, seat, or platform for the passengers. Simple vehicles, such as automobiles, bicycles or simple aircraft, may have one of the passengers as a driver.


Private transport is only subject to the owner of the vehicle, who operates the vehicle themselves. For public transport and freight transport, operations are done through private enterprise or by governments. The infrastructure and vehicles may be owned and operated by the same company, or they may be operated by different entities. Traditionally, many countries have had a national airline and national railway. Since the 1980s, many of these have been privatized. International shipping remains a highly competitive industry with little regulation,[20] but ports can be public-owned.[21]


Relocation of travelers and cargo are the most common uses of transport. However, other uses exist, such as the strategic and tactical relocation of armed forces during warfare, or the civilian mobility construction or emergency equipment.


Main articles: Travel and Public transit

Passenger transport, or travel, is divided into public and private transport. Public transport is scheduled services on fixed routes, while private is vehicles that provide ad hoc services at the riders desire. The latter offers better flexibility, but has lower capacity, and a higher environmental impact. Travel may be as part of daily commuting, for business, leisure or migration.

Short-haul transport is dominated by the automobile and mass transit. The latter consists of buses in rural and small cities, supplemented with commuter rail, trams and rapid transit in larger cities. Long-haul transport involves the use of the automobile, trains, coaches and aircraft, the last of which have become predominantly used for the longest, including intercontinental, travel. Intermodal passenger transport is where a journey is performed through the use of several modes of transport; since all human transport normally starts and ends with walking, all passenger transport can be considered intermodal. Public transport may also involve the intermediate change of vehicle, within or across modes, at a transport hub, such as a bus or railway station.

Taxis and buses can be found on both ends of the public transport spectrum. Buses are the cheaper mode of transport but are not necessarily flexible, and taxis are very flexible but more expensive. In the middle is demand-responsive transport, offering flexibility whilst remaining affordable.

International travel may be restricted for some individuals due to legislation and visa requirements.

Medical transport[edit]

An ambulance is a vehicle used to transport people from or between places of treatment,[22] and in some instances will also provide out-of-hospital medical care to the patient. The word is often associated with road-going "emergency ambulances", which form part of emergency medical services, administering emergency care to those with acute medical problems.

Air medical services is a comprehensive term covering the use of air transportation to move patients to and from healthcare facilities and accident scenes. Personnel provide comprehensive prehospital and emergency and critical care to all types of patients during aeromedical evacuation or rescue operations, aboard helicopters, propeller aircraft, or jet aircraft.[23][24]


Main article: Shipping

Freight transport, or shipping, is a key in the value chain in manufacturing.[25] With increased specialization and globalization, production is being located further away from consumption, rapidly increasing the demand for transport.[26] Transportation creates place utility by moving the goods from the place of production to the place of consumption. While all modes of transport are used for cargo transport, there is high differentiation between the nature of the cargo transport, in which mode is chosen.[27]Logistics refers to the entire process of transferring products from producer to consumer, including storage, transport, transshipment, warehousing, material-handling, and packaging, with associated exchange of information.[28]Incoterm deals with the handling of payment and responsibility of risk during transport.[29]

Containerization, with the standardization of ISO containers on all vehicles and at all ports, has revolutionized international and domestic trade, offering huge reduction in transshipment costs. Traditionally, all cargo had to be manually loaded and unloaded into the haul of any ship or car; containerization allows for automated handling and transfer between modes, and the standardized sizes allow for gains in economy of scale in vehicle operation. This has been one of the key driving factors in international trade and globalization since the 1950s.[4]

Bulk transport is common with cargo that can be handled roughly without deterioration; typical examples are ore, coal, cereals and petroleum. Because of the uniformity of the product, mechanical handling can allow enormous quantities to be handled quickly and efficiently. The low value of the cargo combined with high volume also means that economies of scale become essential in transport, and gigantic ships and whole trains are commonly used to transport bulk. Liquid products with sufficient volume may also be transported by pipeline.

Air freight has become more common for products of high value; while less than one percent of world transport by volume is by airline, it amounts to forty percent of the value. Time has become especially important in regards to principles such as postponement and just-in-time within the value chain, resulting in a high willingness to pay for quick delivery of key components or items of high value-to-weight ratio.[30] In addition to mail, common items sent by air include electronics and fashion clothing.


Main article: Sustainable transport


Main article: Transport economics

Transport is a key necessity for specialization—allowing production and consumption of products to occur at different locations. Transport has throughout history been a spur to expansion; better transport allows more trade and a greater spread of people. Economic growth has always been dependent on increasing the capacity and rationality of transport.[31] But the infrastructure and operation of transport has a great impact on the land and is the largest drainer of energy, making transport sustainability a major issue.

Due to the way modern cities and communities are planned and operated, a physical distinction between home and work is usually created, forcing people to transport themselves to places of work, study, or leisure, as well as to temporarily relocate for other daily activities. Passenger transport is also the essence of tourism, a major part of recreational transport. Commerce requires the transport of people to conduct business, either to allow face-to-face communication for important decisions or to move specialists from their regular place of work to sites where they are needed.


Main article: Transport planning

Transport planning allows for high utilization and less impact regarding new infrastructure. Using models of transport forecasting, planners are able to predict future transport patterns. On the operative level, logistics allows owners of cargo to plan transport as part of the supply chain. Transport as a field is also studied through transport economics, a component for the creation of regulation policy by authorities. Transport engineering, a sub-discipline of civil engineering, must take into account trip generation, trip distribution, mode choice and route assignment, while the operative level is handled through traffic engineering.

Because of the negative impacts incurred, transport often becomes the subject of controversy related to choice of mode, as well as increased capacity. Automotive transport can be seen as a tragedy of the commons, where the flexibility and comfort for the individual deteriorate the natural and urban environment for all. Density of development depends on mode of transport, with public transport allowing for better spatial utilization. Good land use keeps common activities close to people's homes and places higher-density development closer to transport lines and hubs, to minimize the need for transport. There are economies of agglomeration. Beyond transportation some land uses are more efficient when clustered. Transportation facilities consume land, and in cities, pavement (devoted to streets and parking) can easily exceed 20 percent of the total land use. An efficient transport system can reduce land waste.

Too much infrastructure and too much smoothing for maximum vehicle throughput means that in many cities there is too much traffic and many—if not all—of the negative impacts that come with it. It is only in recent years that traditional practices have started to be questioned in many places, and as a result of new types of analysis which bring in a much broader range of skills than those traditionally relied on—spanning such areas as environmental impact analysis, public health, sociologists as well as economists—the viability of the old mobility solutions is increasingly being questioned.


Main article: Transport and the environment

Transport is a major use of energy and burns most of the world's petroleum. This creates air pollution, including nitrous oxides and particulates, and is a significant contributor to global warming through emission of carbon dioxide,[32] for which transport is the fastest-growing emission sector.[33] By subsector, road transport is the largest contributor to global warming.[34]Environmental regulations in developed countries have reduced individual vehicles' emissions; however, this has been offset by increases in the numbers of vehicles and in the use of each vehicle.[32] Some pathways to reduce the carbon emissions of road vehicles considerably have been studied.[35][36] Energy use and emissions vary largely between modes, causing environmentalists to call for a transition from air and road to rail and human-powered transport, as well as increased transport electrification and energy efficiency.

Other environmental impacts of transport systems include traffic congestion and automobile-oriented urban sprawl, which can consume natural habitat and agricultural lands. By reducing transportation emissions globally, it is predicted that there will be significant positive effects on Earth's air quality, acid rain, smog and climate change.[37]

See also[edit]


French National Police use several modes of transport, each with their distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Built by the Dutch to transport spices, now used by the local fishermen to get to the sea, Negombo Dutch canal, Sri Lanka
An ambulance from World War I
Transport is a key component of growth and globalization, such as in Seattle, Washington, United States.
The engineering of this roundabout in Bristol, United Kingdom, attempts to make traffic flow free-moving.
  1. ^Watts, Martin (1999). Working Oxen. Shire Album. 342. Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire: Osprey Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 9780747804154. Retrieved 2016-02-08.  
  2. ^Bardi, Coyle and Novack, 2006: 158
  3. ^ abCooper et al., 1998: 277
  4. ^ abBardi, Coyle and Novack, 2006: 211–14
  5. ^Clifford Winston, Last Exit: Privatization and Deregulation of the U.S. Transportation System (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2010).
  6. ^Cooper et al., 1998: 281
  7. ^Swine flu prompts EU warning on travel to US. The Guardian. April 28, 2009.
  8. ^Cooper et al, 1998: 279
  9. ^"Major Roads of the United States". United States Department of the Interior. 2006-03-13. Archived from the original on 13 April 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2007. 
  10. ^"Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa". National Department of Transport (South Africa). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2007.

"Mass transit" and "mass transport" redirect here. For other uses, see Mass transit (disambiguation).

Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, or mass transit) is transport of passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public, typically managed on a schedule, operated on established routes, and that charge a posted fee for each trip.[1][2][3] Examples of public transport include city buses, trolleybuses, trams (or light rail) and passenger trains, rapid transit (metro/subway/underground, etc.) and ferries. Public transport between cities is dominated by airlines, coaches, and intercity rail. High-speed rail networks are being developed in many parts of the world.

Most public transport systems run along fixed routes with set embarkation/disembarkation points to a prearranged timetable, with the most frequent services running to a headway (e.g.: "every 15 minutes" as opposed to being scheduled for any specific time of the day). However, most public transport trips include other modes of travel, such as passengers walking or catching bus services to access train stations.[4]Share taxis offer on-demand services in many parts of the world, which may compete with fixed public transport lines, or compliment them, by bringing passengers to interchanges. Paratransit is sometimes used in areas of low demand and for people who need a door-to-door service.[5]

Urban public transit differs distinctly among Asia, North America, and Europe. In Asia, profit-driven, privately-owned and publicly traded mass transit and real estate conglomerates predominantly operate public transit systems [6][7] In North America, municipal transit authorities most commonly run mass transit operations. In Europe, both state-owned and private companies predominantly operate mass transit systems, Public transport services can be profit-driven by use of pay-by-the-distance fares or funded by government subsidies in which flat rate fares are charged to each passenger. Services can be fully profitable through high usership numbers and high farebox recovery ratios, or can be regulated and possibly subsidised from local or national tax revenue. Fully subsidised, free of charge services operate in some towns and cities.

For geographical, historical and economic reasons, differences exist internationally regarding use and extent of public transport. While countries in the Old World tend to have extensive and frequent systems serving their old and dense cities, many cities of the New World have more sprawl and much less comprehensive public transport. The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. It has 3,400 members from 92 countries.


Conveyances designed for public hire are as old as the first ferries, and the earliest public transport was water transport: on land people walked (sometimes in groups and on pilgrimages, as noted in sources such as the Bible and The Canterbury Tales) or (at least in the Old World) rode an animal.[8] Ferries appear in Greek mythology—corpses in ancient Greece were buried with a coin underneath their tongue to pay the ferryman Charon to take them to Hades.[9]

Some historical forms of public transport include the stagecoach, traveling a fixed route from coaching inn to coaching inn, and the horse-drawn boat carrying paying passengers, which was a feature of European canals from their 17th-century origins. The canal itself as a form of infrastructure dates back to antiquity – ancient Egyptians certainly used a canal for freight transportation to bypass the Aswan cataract – and the Chinese also built canals for water transportation as far back as the Warring States period[10] which began in the 5th century BCE. Whether or not those canals were used for for-hire public transport remains unknown; the Grand Canal in China (begun in 486 BCE) served primarily for shipping grain.

The omnibus, the first organized public transit system within a city, appears to have originated in Paris, France, in 1662,[11] although the service in question failed a few months after its founder, Blaise Pascal, died in August 1662; omnibuses are next known to have appeared in Nantes, France, in 1826. The omnibus was introduced to London in July 1829.[12]

The first passenger horse-drawn railway opened in 1806: it ran between Swansea and Mumbles in southwest Wales in the United Kingdom.[13] In 1825 George Stephenson built the Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in northeast England, the first public steam railway in the world.


Comparing modes[edit]

Seven criteria measure the usability of different types of public transport and its overall appeal. The criteria are speed, comfort, safety, cost, proximity, timeliness and directness.[14] Speed is calculated from total journey time including transfers. Proximity means how far passengers must walk or otherwise travel before they can begin the public transport leg of their journey and how close it leaves them to their desired destination. Timeliness is how long they must wait for the vehicle. Directness records how far a journey using public transport deviates from the route.

In selecting between competing modes of transport, many individuals are strongly motivated by direct cost (travel fare/ ticket price to them) and convenience, as well as being informed by habit. The same individual may accept the lost time and statistically higher risk of accident in private transport, together with the initial, running and parking costs. Loss of control, spatial constriction, overcrowding, high speeds/accelerations, height and other phobias may discourage use of public transport.

Actual travel time on public transport becomes a lesser consideration when predictable and when travel itself is reasonably comfortable (seats, toilets, services), and can thus be scheduled and used pleasurably, productively or for (overnight) rest. Chauffeured movement is enjoyed by many people when it is relaxing, safe but not too monotonous. Waiting, interchanging, stops and holdups, for example due to traffic or for security, are discomforting. Jet lag is a human constraint discouraging frequent rapid long-distance East-West commuting, favoring modern telecommunications and VR technologies.


See also: Airline and Bush airplane

An airline provides scheduled service with aircraft between airports. Air travel has high speeds, but incurs large waiting times prior to and after travel, and is therefore often only feasible over longer distances or in areas where a lack of ground infrastructure makes other modes of transport impossible. Bush airlines work more similarly to bus stops; an aircraft waits for passengers and takes off when the aircraft is full.

Bus and coach[edit]

Main article: Public transport bus service

Main article: Coach (scheduled transport)

Bus services use buses on conventional roads to carry numerous passengers on shorter journeys. Buses operate with low capacity (compared with trams or trains), and can operate on conventional roads, with relatively inexpensive bus stops to serve passengers. Therefore, buses are commonly used in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas, and for shuttle services supplementing other means of transit in large cities. Bus rapid transit is an ambiguous term used for buses operating on dedicated right-of-way, much like a light rail. Trolleybuses are electric buses that receive power from overhead wires for mobility. Online Electric Vehicles are buses that run on a conventional battery, but are recharged frequently at certain points via underground wires.[15]

Coach services use coaches (long-distance buses) for suburb-to-CBD or longer-distance transportation. The vehicles are normally equipped with more comfortable seating, a separate luggage compartment, video and possibly also a toilet. They have higher standards than city buses, but a limited stopping pattern.


Main article: Passenger rail transport

Passenger rail transport is the conveyance of passengers by means of wheeled vehicles specially designed to run on railways. Trains allow high capacity on short or long distance, but require track, signalling, infrastructure and stations to be built and maintained. Urban rail transit consists of trams, light rail, rapid transit, people movers, commuter rail, monorail, suspension railways and funiculars.

Commuter, intercity, and high-speed rail[edit]

Commuter rail is part of an urban area's public transport; it provides faster services to outer suburbs and neighboring towns and villages. Trains stop at stations that are located to serve a smaller suburban or town center. The stations are often combined with shuttle bus or park and ride systems. Frequency may be up to several times per hour, and commuter rail systems may either be part of the national railway or operated by local transit agencies.

Intercity rail is long-haul passenger services that connect multiple urban areas. They have few stops, and aim at high average speeds, typically only making one of a few stops per city. These services may also be international.

High-speed rail is passenger trains operating significantly faster than conventional rail—typically defined as at least 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph). The most predominant systems have been built in Europe and East Asia, and compared with air travel, offer long-distance rail journeys as quick as air services, have lower prices to compete more effectively and use electricity instead of combustion.[16] high speed rail.

Rapid transit[edit]

Main article: Rapid transit

A rapid transit railway system (also called a metro, underground, or subway) operates in an urban area with high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic.[17][18]

Systems are able to transport large numbers of people quickly over short distances with little land use. Variations of rapid transit include people movers, small-scale light metro and the commuter rail hybrid S-Bahn. More than 160 cities have rapid transit systems, totalling more than 8,000 km (4,971 mi) of track and 7,000 stations. Twenty-five cities have systems under construction.


Main article: Tram

Trams are railborne vehicles that run in city streets or dedicated tracks. They have higher capacity than buses, but must follow dedicated infrastructure with rails and wires either above or below the track, limiting their flexibility.

Light rail[edit]

Main article: Light rail

Light rail is a modern development (and use) of the tram, with dedicated right-of-way not shared with other traffic, (often) step-free access and increased speed. Light rail lines are, thus, essentially modernized interurbans.

Personal rapid transit[edit]

Main article: Personal rapid transit

Personal rapid transit is an automated cab service that runs on rails or a guideway. This is an uncommon mode of transportation (excluding elevators) due to the complexity of automation. A fully implemented system might provide most of the convenience of individual automobiles with the efficiency of public transit. The crucial innovation is that the automated vehicles carry just a few passengers, turn off the guideway to pick up passengers (permitting other PRT vehicles to continue at full speed), and drop them off to the location of their choice (rather than at a stop). Conventional transit simulations show that PRT might attract many auto users in problematic medium-density urban areas. A number of experimental systems are in progress. One might compare personal rapid transit to the more labor-intensive taxi or paratransit modes of transportation, or to the (by now automated) elevators common in many publicly accessible areas.

Cable-propelled transit[edit]

See also: Aerial tramway, Gondola lift, and Cable car (railway)

Cable-propelled transit (CPT) is a transit technology that moves people in motor-less, engine-less vehicles that are propelled by a steel cable.[19] There are two sub-groups of CPT – gondola lifts and cable cars (railway). Gondola lifts are supported and propelled from above by cables, whereas cable cars are supported and propelled from below by cables.

While historically associated with usage in ski resorts, gondola lifts are now finding increased consumption and utilization in many urban areas – built specifically for the purposes of mass transit.[20] Many, if not all, of these systems are implemented and fully integrated within existing public transportation networks. Examples include Metrocable (Medellín), Metrocable (Caracas), Portland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City, and London's Emirates Air Line.


Main article: Ferry

A ferry is a boat used to carry (or ferry) passengers, and sometimes their vehicles, across a body of water. A foot-passenger ferry with many stops is sometimes called a water bus. Ferries form a part of the public transport systems of many waterside cities and islands, allowing direct transit between points at a capital cost much lower than bridges or tunnels, though at a lower speed. Ship connections of much larger distances (such as over long distances in water bodies like the Mediterranean Sea) may also be called ferry services.



All public transport runs on infrastructure, either on roads, rail, airways or seaways. The infrastructure can be shared with other modes, freight and private transport, or it can be dedicated to public transport. The latter is especially valuable in cases where there are capacity problems for private transport. Investments in infrastructure are expensive and make up a substantial part of the total costs in systems that are new or expanding. Once built, the infrastructure will require operating and maintenance costs, adding to the total cost of public transport. Sometimes governments subsidize infrastructure by providing it free of charge, just as is common with roads for automobiles.


Main articles: Transport hub and Intermodal passenger transport

Interchanges are locations where passengers can switch from one public transport route to another. This may be between vehicles of the same mode (like a bus interchange), or e.g. between bus and train. It can be between local and intercity transport (such as at a central station or airport).


Main article: Public transport timetable

Timetables (or 'schedules' in North American English) are provided by the transport operator to allow users to plan their journeys. They are often supplemented by maps and fare schemes to help travelers coordinate their travel. Online public transport route planners help make planning easier. Mobile apps are available for multiple transit systems that provide timetables and other service information and, in some cases, allow ticket purchase, some allowing to plan your journey, with time fares zones eg.

Services are often arranged to operate at regular intervals throughout the day or part of the day (known as clock-face scheduling). Often, more frequent services or even extra routes are operated during the morning and evening rush hours. Coordination between services at interchange points is important to reduce the total travel time for passengers. This can be done by coordinating shuttle services with main routes, or by creating a fixed time (for instance twice per hour) when all bus and rail routes meet at a station and exchange passengers. There is often a potential conflict between this objective and optimising the utilisation of vehicles and drivers.


The main sources of financing are ticket revenue, government subsidies and advertising. The percentage of revenue from passenger charges is known as the farebox recovery ratio. A limited amount of income may come from land development and rental income from stores and vendors, parking fees, and leasing tunnels and rights-of-way to carry fiber optic communication lines.

Fare and ticketing[edit]

Most—but not all—public transport requires the purchase of a ticket to generate revenue for the operators. Tickets may be bought either in advance, or at the time of the journey, or the carrier may allow both methods. Passengers may be issued with a paper ticket, a metal or plastic token, or a magnetic or electronic card (smart card, contactless smart card). Sometimes a ticket has to be validated, e.g. a paper ticket has to be stamped, or an electronic ticket has to be checked in.

Tickets may be valid for a single (or return) trip, or valid within a certain area for a period of time (see transit pass). The fare is based on the travel class, either depending on the traveled distance, or based on zone pricing.

The tickets may have to be shown or checked automatically at the station platform or when boarding, or during the ride by a conductor. Operators may choose to control all riders, allowing sale of the ticket at the time of ride. Alternatively, a proof-of-payment system allows riders to enter the vehicles without showing the ticket, but riders may or may not be controlled by a ticket controller; if the rider fails to show proof of payment, the operator may fine the rider at the magnitude of the fare.

Multi-use tickets allow travel more than once. In addition to return tickets, this includes period cards allowing travel within a certain area (for instance month cards), or during a given number of days that can be chosen within a longer period of time (for instance eight days within a month). Passes aimed at tourists, allowing free or discounted entry at many tourist attractions, typically include zero-fare public transport within the city. Period tickets may be for a particular route (in both directions), or for a whole network. A free travel pass allowing free and unlimited travel within a system is sometimes granted to particular social sectors, for example students, elderly, children, employees (job ticket) and the physically or mentally disabled.

Zero-fare public transport services are funded in full by means other than collecting a fare from passengers, normally through heavy subsidy or commercial sponsorship by businesses. Several mid-size European cities and many smaller towns around the world have converted their entire bus networks to zero-fare. The only European capital with free public transport is Tallinn. Local zero-fare shuttles or inner-city loops are far more common than city-wide systems. There are also zero-fare airport circulators and university transportation systems.

Revenue, profit and subsidies[edit]

Main article: Subsidy

Governments frequently opt to subsidize public transport for social, environmental or economic reasons. Common motivations include the desire to provide transport to people who are unable to use an automobile[21] and to reduce congestion, land use and automobile emissions.[22]

Subsidies may take the form of direct payments for financially unprofitable services, but support may also include indirect subsidies. For example, the government may allow free or reduced-cost use of state-owned infrastructure such as railways and roads, to stimulate public transport's economic competitiveness over private transport, that normally also has free infrastructure (subsidized through such things as gas taxes). Other subsidies include tax advantages (for instance aviation fuel is typically not taxed), bailouts if companies that are likely to collapse (often applied to airlines) and reduction of competition through licensing schemes (often applied to taxis and airlines). Private transport is normally subsidized indirectly through free roads and infrastructure,[23] as well as incentives to build car factories[24] and, on occasion, directly via bailouts of automakers.[25][26]

Land development schemes may be initialized, where operators are given the rights to use lands near stations, depots, or tracks for property development. For instance, in Hong Kong, MTR Corporation Limited and KCR Corporation generate additional profits from land development to partially cover the cost of the construction of the urban rail system.[27]

Some supporters of mass transit believe that use of taxpayer capital to fund mass transit will ultimately save taxpayer money in other ways, and therefore, state-funded mass transit is a benefit to the taxpayer. Some research has supported this position,[28] but the measurement of benefits and costs is a complex and controversial issue.[29] A lack of mass transit results in more traffic, pollution,[30][31][32] and road construction[33] to accommodate more vehicles, all costly to taxpayers;[34] providing mass transit will therefore alleviate these costs.[35] (Perhaps,[36][37][38][39] although right-wing think tanks disagree[40][41])

Safety and security[edit]

Main article: Public transport security

In the United States expansion of public transportation systems is often opposed by critics who see them as vehicles for violent criminals and homeless persons to expand into new areas (to which they would otherwise have to walk).[42] According to the Transportation Research Board, "[v]iolent crime is perceived as pandemic .... Personal security affects many peoples' [sic] decisions to use public transportation."[43] Despite the occasional highly publicized incident, the vast majority of modern public transport systems are well designed and patrolled and generally have low crime rates. Many systems are monitored by CCTV, mirrors, or patrol.[44]

Nevertheless, some systems attract vagrants who use the stations or trains as sleeping shelters, though most operators have practices that discourage this.[44]

Though public transit accidents attract far more publicity than car wrecks, public transport has much lower accident rates. Annually, public transit prevents 200,000 deaths, injuries, and accidents had equivalent trips been made by car. The National Safety Council estimates that riding the bus is over 170 times safer than private car.[45]



Main article: Sustainable transport

Although there is continuing debate as to the true efficiency of different modes of transportation, mass transit is generally regarded as significantly more energy efficient than other forms of travel. A 2002 study by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute found that public transportation in the U.S uses approximately half the fuel required by cars, SUV's and light trucks. In addition, the study noted that "private vehicles emit about 95 percent more carbon monoxide, 92 percent more volatile organic compounds and about twice as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide than public vehicles for every passenger mile traveled".[47]

A 2004 study from Lancaster University concluded that there was no environmental benefit to be gained from persuading car or plane travelers to switch to trains. Environmental group Friends of the Earth were skeptical of the findings, claiming the results are not in line with previous studies.[48] The study showed that trains had failed to keep up with the advances that the automotive and aviation industries had made in improved fuel efficiency. Express trains travelling from London to Edinburgh consumed 11.5 litres more fuel per seat than a modern diesel car.

Studies have shown that there is a strong inverse correlation between urban population density and energy consumption per capita, and that public transport could facilitate increased urban population densities, and thus reduce travel distances and fossil fuel consumption.[49]

Supporters of the green movement usually advocate public transportation, because it offers decreased airborne pollution compared to automobiles. A study conducted in Milan, Italy, in 2004 during and after a transportation strike serves to illustrate the impact that mass transportation has on the environment. Air samples were taken between 2 and 9 January, and then tested for methane, carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), and other gases identified as harmful to the environment. The figure below is a computer simulation showing the results of the study "with 2 January showing the lowest concentrations as a result of decreased activity in the city during the holiday season. 9 January showed the highest NMHC concentrations because of increased vehicular activity in the city due to a public transportation strike."[50]

Based on the benefits of public transport, the green movement has impacted public policy. For example, the state of New Jersey released Getting to Work: Reconnecting Jobs with Transit.[51] This initiative attempts to relocate new jobs into areas with higher public transportation accessibility. The initiative cites the use of public transportation as being a means of reducing traffic congestion, providing an economic boost to the areas of job relocation, and most importantly, contributing to a green environment by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Using public transportation can result in a reduction of an individual's carbon footprint. A single person, 20-mile (32 km) round trip by car can be replaced using public transportation and result in a net CO2 emissions reduction of 4,800 pounds (2,200 kg) per year.[52] Using public transportation saves CO2 emissions in more ways than simply travel as public transportation can help to alleviate traffic congestion as well as promote more efficient land use. When all three of these are considered, it is estimated that 37 million metric tons of CO2 will be saved annually.[52] Another study claims that using public transit instead of private in the U.S. in 2005 would have reduced CO2 emissions by 3.9 million metric tons and that the resulting traffic congestion reduction accounts for an additional 3.0 million metric tons of CO2 saved.[53] This is a total savings of about 6.9 million metric tons per year given the 2005 values.

In order to compare energy impact of public transportation to private transportation, the amount of energy per passenger mile must be calculated. The reason that comparing the energy expenditure per person is necessary is to normalize the data for easy comparison. Here, the units are in per 100 p-km (read as person kilometer or passenger kilometer). In terms of energy consumption, public transportation is better than individual transport in a personal vehicle.[54] In England, bus and rail are popular methods of public transportation, especially London. Rail provides rapid movement into and out of the city of London while busing helps to provide transport within the city itself. As of 2006–2007, the total energy cost of London's trains was 15 kWh per 100 p-km, about 5 times better than a personal car.[55] For busing in London, it was 32 kWh per 100 p-km, or about 2.5 times that of a personal car.[55] This includes lighting, depots, inefficiencies due to capacity (i.e., the train or bus may not be operating at full capacity at all times), and other inefficiencies. Efficiencies of transport in Japan in 1999 were 68 kWh per 100 p-km for a personal car, 19 kWh per 100 p-km for a bus, 6 kWh per 100 p-km for rail, 51 kWh per 100 p-km for air, and 57 kWh per 100 p-km for sea.[55] These numbers from either country can be used in energy comparison calculations or life cycle assessment calculations.

Public transportation also provides an arena to test environmentally friendly fuel alternatives, such as hydrogen-powered vehicles. Swapping out materials to create lighter public transportation vehicles with the same or better performance will increase environmental friendliness of public transportation vehicles while maintaining current standards or improving them. Informing the public about the positive environmental effects of using public transportation in addition to pointing out the potential economic benefit is an important first step towards making a difference.

Land use[edit]

Urban space is a precious commodity and public transport utilises it more efficiently than a car dominant society, allowing cities to be built more compactly than if they were dependent on automobile transport.[56] If public transport planning is at the core of urban planning, it will also force cities to be built more compactly to create efficient feeds into the stations and stops of transport.[57][4] This will at the same time allow the creation of centers around the hubs, serving passengers' daily commercial needs and public services. This approach significantly reduces urban sprawl. Public land planning for public transportation can be difficult but it is the State and Regional organizations that are responsible to planning and improving public transportation roads and routes. With public land prices booming, there must be a plan to using the land most efficiently for public transportation in order to create better transportation systems. Inefficient land use and poor planning leads to a decrease in accessibility to jobs, education, and health care. [58]


An important social role played by public transport is to ensure that all members of society are able to travel, not just those with a driving license and access to an automobile—which include groups such as the young, the old, the poor, those with medical conditions, and people banned from driving. Automobile dependency is a name given by policy makers to places where those without access to a private vehicle do not have access to independent mobility.[60]

Above that, public transportation opens to its users the possibility of meeting other people, as no concentration is diverted from interacting with fellow-travelers due to any steering activities. Adding to the above-said, public transport becomes a location of inter-social encounters across all boundaries of social, ethnic and other types of affiliation.


In the past, public transport allowed transport at an economy of scale not available through private transport. Nowadays there is considerable debate on the advantages and disadvantages of mass transit. According to the OECD, the advantages of carsharing networks could very well obviate the need for traditional public transport.[61]

Shanghai Metro is the largest rapid transit system in the world by route length.
Trolza trolleybus in Moscow – operating the world's largest trolleybus system
3 different types of trains (U-Bahn, S-Bahn and regional/long distance trains) in Hamburg, Germany
A contactless ticket validator used in Moscow, Russia

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars; it's where the rich use public transport —Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogotá[59]

Tram tunnel in Bratislava, Slovakia - a connection of embankment with a city centre

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