Abstract: According to conventional wisdom, small towns and settlements on the fringes of Australian cities are impossible to serve by public transport. Low population densities mean that public transport cannot attract enough passengers to be viable, let alone have any significant impact on levels of car use. The case of semi-rural Switzerland challenges this consensus. Villages around ZurichWinterthur have population densities comparable to semi-rural Australia, but journey-to-work figures show their public transport mode share exceeding those of most Australian capital cities. While there are obvious differences in urban form, the greatest contrast may be in public transport planning methods and supply policies.
This paper compares the settlements in Zurich's Weinland region with those on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, focussing in particular on population density and journey-to-work mode shares. In analysing the similarities and differences, it also introduces the Weinland’s transport planning methods (explored in greater detail in Petersen 2009) which appear to be critical to its success. It therefore challenges Australian transport policy makers to reconsider the traditional approach to public transport planning in the commuter belts of Australian cities.