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Exploring the social and spatial potential of an intermodal approach to transport planning


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Gilbert and Perl (2007 Gilbert, R., & Perl, A. (2007)) established how different epochs in human history came with specific “transport revolutions.” Our research suggests that intermodal approaches could constitute an invisible transport planning revolution.

Based on a review defining “social” sustainability as it applies to urban passenger transportation, we consider the potential of an intermodal focus to better integrate non-motorized (walking-cycling) and public transportation. We start from the premise that rather than being a primary “mono-mode” such as buses or trains, sustainable transport is best understood as an ecology of modes with specific strengths and complementarities that can be mobilized through planning.

Using data from Metropolitan Santiago (Chile), we explore this potential, from a conceptual, mainly social, and spatial perspective. We find that paying more attention to different formats of cycling, public transport integration could significantly improve low-cost alternatives for individual and feeder trips. Moreover, adjusting land use to non-work trip purposes could yield substantial benefits. This approach also offers the possibility of developing relatively simple tools helpful for improving the deliberative aspects of participatory planning, thereby increasing buy-in as well as improving health, efficiency, safety, and other benefits of sustainable transport.

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