Unlikely similar – forking paths and path-dependency in transportation studies of Helsinki and Melbourne

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Our paper examines the differences between institutional bases and metropolitan scale transportation planning in Helsinki, Finland and Melbourne, Australia. The starting point of the exploration is two transportation studies on opposite sides of the world in the late 1960’s by Wilbur Smith & Associates. The Helsinki Metropolitan Transportation Study (1968) and the Melbourne Transportation Study (1969) were produced simultaneously from an almost identical value base. Not only the starting point of the studies, but also their structures, were strikingly similar. All modes of transportation (Cars and Trucks, Heavy Rail, and Buses and Trams) were analysed as a part of a metropolitan long-term development plan and even the proposed freeway/highway system follows the same, more elongated grid-like pattern rather than the currently popular orbital pattern. Differences can be found in the emphases of the work carried out. The Helsinki study is characterized by major restructuring of the highway system, while the Melbourne study appears to focus more clearly on the parking and public transportation side. Since this time the development of these cities has taken different courses. We take a closer look at the key points of decision-making, the institutional characteristics of the planning system and important differences in the starting points. By so doing we seek to understand the uncertainties, dynamics and path-dependency which evidently form the gaps in rational planning studies and systems.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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