Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hong Kong & Zurich transport report

  Two vastly different cities on the way to the UK, but a day spent in each showed some similarities in the area of modern transport planning..... [Pic: double-decker buses, and trams (!) in Hong Kong]
  Hong Kong (6M population) & Zurich (a bit over 1M, similar to Auckland) both had modern, frequent, quick and reasonably cheap rail links between the airport and their CBDs, and other major centres - both also used effective new light rail links within the airport to shuttle people around between terminals, arrival halls & baggage claims, etc. The effect of these services kept traffic and resulting congestion on the roads in and around the airport within manageable levels - Auckland could learn a lot from them [Heathrow in London had similar services & it appears Auckland may be the odd one out!]
  In terms of large city CBD planning, both also had extensive underground walkways (especially Hong Kong) linking transport services with shopping areas, and in Hong Kong's case enabling these areas to have multiple usage, freeing up a surprising amount of above-ground land for aesthetically pleasing parks, gardens & piazzas. 
  There was a clear effort to ensure major transport systems did not detract too much from the quality of residents' and visitors' city experiences  - again more lessons for Auckland and perhaps the rest of us.
  Zurich also had an excellent 'Zurich Card' - for about NZ$30/day, transfers between the airport & downtown, all local travel on buses, trams, trains, ferries and the tourist cable-car were covered, as well as providing free entry to the city's 35-odd museums, and discounts at various restaurants and retail outlets - something all NZ cities could usefully copy!
  Both cities also had pretty good transport information displays, signage and electronic ticket self-service systems - both at stops, major stations and in other public areas - even a newbie like me was finding his way around without help within an hour or so of arriving in each place.

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