Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy


The article argues that municipalities should play a major role in ensuring equitable access to public transportation and in planning for transit-oriented development. It presents two case studies that illustrate the importance of these undertakings. In South Africa, apartheid spatial and racial segregation resulted in the exclusion of non-white residents from the urban core where the economy was centered. These residents, who were forced to live in a city’s outlying areas, experienced considerable difficulty in commuting to the workplace. To address the lack of transportation equity, the City of Johannesburg, with support from the national and provincial governments, embarked on the construction of transit arterial connections to link apartheid-isolated areas to other parts of the City. In 2009, the City began operating a bus rapid transit system to connect Soweto, an apartheid-affected township within Johannesburg, to its Central Business District. In Boston, Massachusetts, the Fairmount Indigo rail line, running from South Station to Readville, in the Hyde Park area of Boston, has been reactivated to provide equitable access to public transportation in areas racially segregated and in need of revitalization.

The equitable new modes of transport in Johannesburg and Boston provide an opportunity for economic development in the areas surrounding the transit routes. Accordingly, both cities created transit corridors with the expectation that communities within them can be transformed through public improvements and private investment. The article compares the transit-oriented development plans of each city and highlights some of the impediments to effectuating transit-oriented development. The legal context in which the plans have been made is compared as well. The benefits of transit-oriented development are discussed including improvements to the environment that result from a decrease in traffic congestion and air pollution as commuters switch to public transit from the use of motor vehicles. The article presents views on the role cities and metropolitan governments should play in the planning and implementation of transit-oriented development corridors.