Transportation and infrastructure
A major revision focuses on internal mobility
and the city dweller’s experience
After a fundamental reorganization and restructuring to better reflect a city’s transportation
and infrastructure experience for residents and visitors, the rankings in this indicator have changed dramatically. None of the top five this year was in the top five last year.
For instance, Singapore, which ranks first this year, ranked 17th last year. Seoul and
Toronto, tied for second place this year, ranked ninth and 15th, respectively, last year. Tokyo
has also moved up, albeit only two places, to number four, while number-five Hong Kong
has also moved up two places. In the end, Toronto is the only non-Asian city in the top
five—as opposed to last year, when the top five cities were exclusively European or American.
Regarding US cities, in fact, only New York is in the top 10 this year, along with four European cities. Chicago has fallen 12 slots from second last year to 14th this year, tied with
San Francisco, which has fallen 10 slots from fourth last year. And Los Angeles does even
worse this year than in 2011, falling from 21st to 25th.
This indicator now reflects a rethinking, not simply of the category, but of the actual role
transport and infrastructure play in a city’s development and cohesion. It now seeks to
measure and assess the actual networks of internal mobility and physical connection that
bind a city together and maximize both its economic efficiency and social integration.
As a result, three variables (aircraft movements, incoming/outgoing passenger flows,
and airport to CBD access) have been moved to the city gateway indicator, as they measure
movements in and out of, not within, a city.
Of course, traffic congestion is certainly an issue of internal urban mobility (or, more often than not, immobility); but it, too, has been transferred to demographics and livability primarily because the entire web of issues related to congestion—and, more generally, the use of automobiles in a city—has become less a matter of urban transport than of quality of life.
While several variables have been removed from this indicator, some have been added
or altered. The altogether new one is public transport systems. This variable assesses the
various systemic elements of a fully modern and efficient public transport network, which
are manifestly more than the sum of metro tracks or tram rails.
By gauging systemic coverage and connectivity (bus rapid transit, trolleys, or bike share, for example, as well as conventional modes), this variable measures the broadest possible coverage—or the extent to which the largest possible percentage of a city’s population has access to the widest possible means of public conveyance.
In addition, major construction activity now replaces skyscraper construction activity.
While vertical density is a distinguishing (and often necessary) feature of urban life,
skyscrapers are only one aspect of symbolic urbanism (the café and the cabaret are others).
And while it is mostly European cities that are identified with a less vertical definition
of urbanism, the “Old World” actually contains more than one continent.
In fact, in many Asian cities that are now emblems of skyscraping ambition, it is often the resident of a Beijing hutong (an alley of traditional courtyard residences) or a Shanghai lilong (again, a lane of traditional low-rise settlement) who is the descendant of generations of urbanites.
By contrast, many of the dwellers of much taller, “modern” structures are recent migrants
from the countryside. It is precisely to stress this human dimension of infrastructure that
we also moved the housing variable—which correlates very strongly with high quality of
life—from demographics and livability to this indicator.
(Number indicates from the bottom of the list)
Public Transport System - 7th
Mass Transit Coverage - 11th
Cost of public transport - 4th
Licensed taxis - 27th (No.1 as the best!)
Major construction activity - 23rd
Housing - 8th
Total Score : 80 (same as Shanghai)