Urban planning impacts in perceived accessibility of public transport


  • Michelangelo Fusi Università degli Studi di Brescia
  • Michela Tiboni Università degli Studi di Brescia


Urban Planning, Perceived accessibility, Public Transport, Public Transport Stop




Integrating urban and transport planning is strongly supported by the literature as the basis for sustainable city planning (Bertolini, le Clercq and Kapoen, 2005). An approach that can be manifest in various ways, from transit-oriented development (TOD) to community involvement in traffic calming measures. A theme shared by both technic disciplines is the transit stop. In the urban planning field, positioning and designing a stop involve aspects such as land uses and settlement structures. In the transportation field, the stop is considered an essential element as it constitutes the interface between the transit service and the users. Consequently, a fully accessible stop makes the service more attractive and usable, resulting in more efficiency. Therefore, it is evident that public transport’s accessibility is connected to the intention to use public transport, suggesting that stop accessibility is a key element for a successful transport system.

The term “accessibility” may encompass various interpretations. A potential definition sees it as “the extent to which land use and transportation systems allow activities or destinations to be reached through combinations of transportation modes” (Geurs and Ritsema Van Eck, 2001). This sentence, which recalls the interaction models between accessibility and land use and between land use and mobility, emphasizes mobility. A definition that instead distinguishes accessibility from mobility sees the former as the measure of interaction potential as a function of spatial impedance factors, and the latter as the ability to move or to be moved. In other words, accessibility refers to the potential for mobility, the ease of reaching a destination (Litman, 2011).

Within this framework, public transport can have a fundamental role in ensuring socially and environmentally sustainable accessibility: accessibility to public transport itself therefore acquires a vital importance in the design and evaluation of transport systems (Saif, Zefreh and Torok, 2018). It can be interpreted as access to the public transport system itself, or as access to the destination reached by the systems, or both, and is usually assessed considering objective and measurable factors such as travel times and distance. This approach has the limitation of not capturing the real accessibility perceived by users by not grasping how individuals actually evaluate accessibility (Lättman, Friman and Ollson, 2016). Since aggregate behaviours reflect the individual dimension, an accessibility-oriented approach to sustainable transport systems must consider perception as a fundamental determinant.

Given the importance of accessibility perceived by users and given the role that the stop has in public transport systems, the article proposes to scope the topic by identifying and classifying the factors that, in literature, influence the perception of accessibility to stops, with particular attention to the elements that affect the domain of urban planning. The research aim is to understand how urban design choices can guide the perceived accessibility to public transport, identifying possible new ways of dialogue between urban and transport planning disciplines.


Bertolini, L., le Clercq, F., & Kapoen, L. (2005). 'Sustainable accessibility: A conceptual framework to integrate transport and land use plan-making. Two test-applications in the Netherlands and a reflection on the way forward'. Transport Policy, 12(3), 207–220.

Geurs, K. T. & Ritsema Van Eck. (2001). Accessibility Measures: Review and Applications. Evaluation of Accessibility Impacts of Land-Use Transportation Scenarios, and Related Social and Economic Impac. Utrecht University, Urban Research Center.

Lättman, K., Friman, M., & Olsson, L. E. (2016). 'Perceived Accessibility of Public Transport as a Potential Indicator of Social Inclusion'. Social Inclusion, 4(3), 36–45.

Litman T. (2011), Evaluating Accessibility for Transportation Planning. Victoria: Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Saif, M. A., Zefreh, M. M., & Torok, A. (2018). 'Public Transport Accessibility: A Literature Review'. Periodica Polytechnica Transportation Engineering, 47(1), 36–43.