Sunday, October 15, 2006

Now that’s what I call an Underground

As a quick side note, those interested in learning more about the London Underground should read this article from Wikepedia . The person who worked on this really did their homework.

One of the great things about the Semester Break in London was that I was able to experience a true Metropolis with a transport system that is one of the oldest in the world and one of the most extensive. However, along with this experience came of course analysis and discussion between my mother and I comparing different approaches to transport and even different transport choices in other countries.

The London Underground in Action, at Marble Arch station

This gave me a great opportunity to compare and contrast London’s systems with that of Oslo, Norway. Now some may say that you can’t compare the two systems because of existing circumstances and factors including: Geography, Population, size of the Urban Area etc. I beg to differ. Due to these specific differences, it makes it interesting to see choices that have been made; such as the decision to go underground with metro systems, the techniques used to create tunnels, and the potential conflicts that those choices will mean.

Even simply comparing the maps of the two cities, one can notice the differences.

From Blog Photos

The London System, while expansive, relies on a very dispersed layout with multiple lines and many connections between lines and services providing opportunities to change between all modes as well. For example, at certain stations you can change between multiple underground lines and switch to State Rail connections.

From Blog Photos

Meanwhile, the Oslo system focuses on more of a hub-and-spoke layout with most lines converging at Jernbantorget with connections to Oslo Central Station and NSB service to other cities. There are a few stations to change lines, but not to the degree of complexity that I associate with the London Underground, and the processes behind changing lines.

For example, to change to the Central Line to another line such as the Bakerloo or Piccadilly line, one must get to an appropriate station to change, exit the train, and then follow the signs and almost catacomb like tunnels of the underground, to either an escalator or sometimes an elevator to take one to lines either above or below another. A complaint that I am sure a lot of Londoners have is the heat associated with the Underground, in fact it something that I began to notice with the Oslo T-Bane when I got back from London.

A common thing my Mother and I mentioned was the inaccessibility of a many of the lines and platforms to those with disabilities such as those with Wheel Chairs or even women with carriages for there babies, you didn’t see many of those people in the underground. We often joked to take the underground you had to be in good shape to be constantly running from platform to platform and constantly going up and down stairs. There are stations that have level loading, but they are few and far between from looking at the maps yet is highly concentrated along the Eastern portions in zones 2 and onward to 6 as well as some large concentrations out in the West in zones 3 and onward.

As far as I can tell with the Oslo T-Bane and modes of Public Transport, almost all are in some way shape or form handicapped accessible and most have level loading with platforms and can accommodate the huge carriages that often accompany Norwegian mothers and their babies.

All of these discussions almost related back to Public Transport in Minneapolis. After looking over a lot of maps and articles I feel that Minneapolis and St. Paul could apply lessons learned from the Oslo system and eventually apply them with some underground lines in the future as pressures on development increase. Meanwhile for Oslo, planners should look to Copenhagen and Stockholm for influence due to Oslo’s population size being that of 600,000 (I think) with Copenhagen being slightly larger at 1.5 Million people.

However, Oslo could see another wave of centralization and urbanization in the next coming years especially with the prospects of EU membership. Oslo has a long way to go before it becomes a Metropolis to the degree that London is, but when and if the time ever comes they have plenty of cities to look too for applying practices, as do we in the Twin Cities.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

As a family social science major it would be interesting to see what the belief systems of London were at the time the underground transit was built. Did the family really matter?