November 1992

Report given by the Auditors:
Niklaus Baumann (CH)
S. Olof Gunnarsson (S)
Hermann Knoflacher (A)

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          2


An audit was held on Nov. 9-14 1992 concerning the traffic planning of the Helsinki Area. Three independent experts from Austria, Sweden and Switzerland were called to perform this audit. This report presents purpose and procedure of the audit, findings, general views of the Auditors of the urban traffic problem, and recommendations for further steps for the development of the Helsinki Area.

The Auditors

The following professionals in urban traffic planning were called for the audit:
- Niklaus Baumann, Dipl.-Ing., Stv. Direktor, Tietbauamt, Basel-Stadt (CH),
- S. Olof Gunnarsson, Tekn.lic., Professor, Trafikplanering, Chalmers tekniska högskola, Göteborg (S),
- Hermann Knoflacher, Dr.-Ing., Professor, Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Verkehrstechnik, Technische Universität, Wien (A).

Prof. Knoflacher has served as a Chairman of the Auditors.

The purpose of the audit

The purpose of the Helsinki Area Transportation System Status audit was given as:

To determine if Helsinki Area has proceeded well or poorly in achieving European standard and status of transportation systems and what should be done the next?

The first statement includes a goal for the Auditors, namely to compare traffic planning with 'European standard and status'. As we see, there does not exist any standard like this. However, our evaluation method will be based on the experiences we have got from our national and international work in traffic planning and operation. Our mission will be as much as possible to give objective views on the Helsinki Area problems, implemented measures and current plans.

The second statement asks for proposals and recommendations for further steps. We have drawn conclusions from the facts and the discussions we have got during the audit meetings (Appendix 2 and Chapter 3), and together with our views on urban and traffic problems and solutions (Chapter 4), we have formulated recommendations for development of the transport system for the Helsinki Area (Chapter 5).

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          3


Background information

The Audit Coordinators, Mr Pekka Rytilä and Teuvo Juntunen, have planned the audit in an excellent way, and compiled useful and interesting background papers, mostly in English (Appendices A&B, not enclosed to this report). A condensed review of steps to the present stage of the Helsinki Area transportation system has been given for Public transport, Pedestrian & bikes, Administration & projects, Terminals, and for Roads & streets (Appendix 1).

Procedure of the audit meetings

A schedule was set up for the meetings with several institutions and organizations involved in urban and traffic planning of the Helsinki Area - ministries, city administrations, planning offices, transit authorities - and also the public (see Appendix 2). The audit meetings took normally place at the office of the body, and each body was free to send its representatives. The duration of an audit meeting was around 1,5 - 2 hours.

The following procedure of the audit meetings was generally applied:
1) A presentation of facts and views were given by the Representatives.
2) A discussion was opened between the Representatives and the Auditors.
3) An internal deliberation went on between the Auditors in order to reach consensus of opinions and impressions.
4) Additional questions were given from the auditors to the Representatives in order to clarify remaining standpoints.
5) Minutes were written for each meeting in order to set up given facts, points of interest from the discussion, and the conclusions of the Auditors (Appendix 2).
6) The minutes were then sent out to each body for a review, which have resulted in valuable additional facts and comments (Appendix 2).

The meetings were held under good atmosphere, and we are very grateful to the participants for their willingness to support us with frank and useful information. The public hearing on Nov. 11 gave us opportunities to get knowledge of some of the critics which had been raised against lack of coordinated planning and against current road plans, but also valuable proposals for improving public transport and pedestrian/bicycle facilities.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                              4


In general, we have found that the Helsinki Area has applied the same planning philosophy as many other European cities, devoted to road investments and a high degree of car dependency. Our findings will therefore probably not differ from a similar examination directed to other cities. However, it seems to us that the consequences of the shift from a rail-based public transport approach to a more road-oriented investment policy are maybe more evidently and clearly demonstrated in the Helsinki Area than in any other European area of similar size, which usually has larger historical city structure and more shortness of land.

We summarize our findings shortly in the following statements:

3.1 Increasing population and car ownership in the Helsinki Area
a) A very fast growing population since 1950.
b) The growth concentrated to Espoo and Vantaa and other suburbs, as there are no or nearly no historical city structures besides Helsinki city.
c) An increasing car ownership during the last 30 years,

3.2 Investments devoted to road transport and car use
a) Continuous investment in the road sector, paid by the State, which has lead to an over-capacity for some parts of the road network.
b) Housing policy extremely promoting car use, with inexpensive land in the suburbs, and privately owned houses with low density and low flexibility.
c) Regional public transport, mostly based on buses.
d) Lack of tools to organise and control the development.

3.3 Attempts to provide an effective rail-based public transport
a) The City of Helsinki has a long tradition in tram service.
b) A metro line was opened in 1982, paid by the Helsinki City.
c) Local rail lines, extended to Martinlaakso in 1975.
d) However, efforts to continue the extension of rail-based public transport. seem to be broken after the opening of the metro.
e) A uniform ticket system was introduced in 1986.
f) An extension of railway tracks: 4th to the north, 2 tracks to the west.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                              5

3.4 Pedestrian and bicycle facilities
a) Pedestrian streets in the Helsinki downtown have been implemented since 1982.
b) A bikeway network has been implemented continuously since 1975.
c) New settlements have separated pedestrian/bicycle networks.

3.5 Parking policy
a) Parking restrictions and differentiated parking fees are applied in the City of Helsinki.
b) The suburbs have mostly free parking.

3.6 Consequences of the transport and housing policies
a) Increasing dependency on cars,
b) Fast growing motor traffic,
c) Increasing air pollution, accidents etc., d) Uncontrolled land use,
e) Congestion and parking problems,
f) Unfair competitiveness for public transport,
g) Deconcentration of settlements and concentration of external workplaces and service centers,
h) Discouraging for using public transport, biking and walking.

3.7 Reasons and background factors
a) Lack of clear goals and comprehensive views of the urban problems,
b) Lack of knowledge of system effects,
c) Lack of comprehensive measures,
d) Lack of regional coordination in planning,
e) Lack of awareness of political and administrative possibilities for coordinated actions,
t) Lack of financial coordination for investment and operation of the infrastructure.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92 6


. Mobility and transport are human needs

Transport is created by needs or wishes which are not reachable within the own space. As soon as we move ourselves, from one place to another, or move gc which we produce or consume, traffic is generated on roads, tracks etc. The growth of population but also - at growing prosperity - of individual needs has increased motor traffic in a way that is harmful for us, our environment and energy resources. In addition to that, technology has made transport easier and cheaper, which has had the effect that every evolution of transport systems facilitates or encourages mobility: we can move faster and longer. However, we have come to a crossroad, and our society must be motivated to live and function in a way that mobility and transport do not exceed limits for environment and other means.

. Environmental issues and responsibility are getting more and more important

The world-wide environmental damage to the nature and the health effects to the human bodies have become more and more evidently and now been recognized by the politicians as given by the conventions of Sofia in 1988 (for NOx) and on Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (for CO2). The environmental problems can only be solved if national and international agreements are strongly supported by activity and measures on all levels of administration and political bodies as well as on responsibility of individuals.

The goals of the environmental protection and of energy saving, have to be considered seriously also in the transport sector, both on national level and on regional and municipality levels. The transport sector must during coming years contribute to these goals to a very high extend in comparison with other sectors

. The system effects of investments in the traffic sector must be carefully considered

The traffic system has a strong influence on the urban structure and vice versa. Many actors/players are involved in this procedure, which has impact on the growth of the city, the city atmosphere and the quality of life of the citizens. It is therefore necessary that the system effects have to be taken in full consideration in the evaluation of transport investment and operation consequences, both to urban structure and life, and to human behaviour and reaction of all transport users.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          7

. Further road investments do not favour a sound development of a city

Road investments are based on beliefs that they among others save time for the transport users. It has been shown in many studies that time saving is a chimera as increasing speed on roads produces:
- increase of trip length, and
- higher degree of car use and dependency, as a result of
- segregation and uncontrolled of settlement development, and
- lower base for public transport service and higher costs,
which leads to
- increasing travel time (no total time savings in the long run}, and
- increasing congestion, environmental problems and energy consumption.

. Mobility is not only a question of car mobility

Mobility is "a basic freedom". However, a society based on car mobility does not offer other alternatives to move, as increasing car ownership and car use will decrease other kinds of mobility, esp. for pedestrians and cyclists and for non-motorists.

. Only investments in the public transport system) esp. for rail service, can favour a sound development of an urban area

Investments in the public transport sector, esp. for rail service, will produce an urban structure and environment which can satisfy the goals for a sound development of urban area as it gives:
- direction of city development to corridors,
- attractive alternative to car users and good service for non-motorists,
- less marginal costs for transport than on roads,
- positive effects on environment and on traffic safety.

. Market economy must be applied

The root of the traffic problems are among others lack of applying market economy in urban transport. The payment for using cars in urban areas does not correspond to the marginal costs, which means that a car driver can enter to the traffic system to a very low cost in relation to the effects of congestion and environment effects for the whole system. A road pricing system must therefore be applied to reach a sound use of the infrastructure and it will favour most of all transport consumers.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          8

. A shift to a less car dependent society is necessary

A further world-wide increase of automobile ownership and traffic can not be accepted. In the industrialized world, there must come a shift, directed to a more pro-environmental, energy saving and democratic solution of the urban traffic problem. We believe that to get a better future, less energy consumption, less emissions and more freedom of choice, it is time for a fundamental change in policies, measures and administration, and in the life style of individuals. A step in this direction is to work for a city and traffic renewal and a society, based on less car dependency.

Our recommendations in Chapter 5 have been based on these views.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                              9


5.1 Clear goals for the development of the Helsinki Capital Region must be established.

5.1.1 Define the role of the Helsinki Capital Region as a part of Finland and this part of a rapidly changing Europe.

5.1.2 Define goals for the development of Helsinki Area.

5.1.3 Define goals based on sustainability for environment and society.

5.1.4 Define goals and standards for mobility and transportation, which will favour the wished goals for the development of Helsinki Area.


The Helsinki Master Plan 1992 (Helsinki City Office) is a good starting point for considerations and discussions

5.2 Institutional changes are necessary to promote efficient actions

5.2.1 Establish an effective supreme organization for coordinated actions to be taken on both regional and local levels, and on various sectors.

5.2.2 Support the organization with financial power for the whole transport sector (not directed to special investments, e.g. for road investments).

5.2.3 Make it possible to transfer funds from road investments to public transport improvements.


The Traffic Council of Metropolitan is a step in this direction. A similar body has to be small in size, wide in scope and with high degree of competence.

5.3 Land use and traffic planning must be integrated and directed to reduce transport demand and the negative effects of traffic

5.3.1 Integrate land use planning and traffic planning in such a way that - the number and length of daily motorized trips can be reduced,

- most of the trips can be done by public transport, biking or walking, - the people have a fair chance of modal choice. 5.3.2 Develop a public transport system which

- can be more based on rail service, esp. through light rail,

- integrates light rail vehicles on the railway and metro network,

- can overtake tangential functions, and integrate the airport into the rail network.

5.3.3 Develop or improve suburbs around stations with a variety of housing, work places and services.

5.3.4 Organize parking in such a way that public transport is favoured.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          10


a) The integration of light rail on the railway and metro network needs a transfer to a uniform track width (1.524 m) This can be done at first for new lines and through a successive change of the existing tram system.

b) A light rail connection Helsinki C-Espoo is recommended as a first step for integration of light rail-heavy rail.

5.4 Road investments should be restricted

5.4.1 Inhibit all planning and planned investments of roads which only extend road capacity in the main network.

5.4.2 Direct further road investments for safety improvements and

environmental protection, incl. technical measures for noise protection. 5.4.3 Introduce a self regulating financing system, based on road pricing and parking fees.


The Auditor.s' mean that the planned Ring II should not be built and for the Pasila link the above mentioned criteria should be checked.

5.5 Traffic operation has to be more market oriented

5.5.1 Establish a parking policy which organizes (and/or restricts) parking not only in city centers but also in surrounding areas in a way that the

use of public transport, biking and walking is more attractive than using car for daily trips.

5.5.2 Differentiate public transport fares with regard to service and to peak hour and off-peak hour.

5.5.3 Study alternatives for price setting of car traffic (taxes, fees etc) and set up a strategy for introduction of full cost road pricing.

5.5.4 Favour car and van pooling by incentives, e.g. reduced fees for parking, using reserved lanes.

5.6 Attention must be given to efficient goods transport and deliveries

5.6.1 Promote goods transport on rail.

5.6.2 Locate terminals (incl. harbours) for goods in the way that they avoid or reduce truck traffic through cities, residential areas and environmentally sensitive areas.

Helsinki Area TraI1.,;portation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                           11

5.7 Special remarks for improving city structure and environment

5.7.1 Keep the old Helsinki City Center intact and do not admit competition from other connected centers (e.g. planned extension of Pasila). 5.7.2 Let Pasila with its good conditions as a public transport center (for lines N -5 and E- W) take over some central functions (e.g. administration, sport).

5.7.3 Develop attractive housing and business areas close to the Helsinki City Center when the planned dislocation of city harbours is carried out.

5.7.4 Pedestrianize the city center and implement car-free zones.

5.7.5 Extend the ongoing program for development of the biking network.

5.7.6 Implement traffic calming measures on local roads in residential, school and commercial areas for better safety and environment together with aesthetical and architectural renewal programs.

5.8 Cheap short term improvements for public transport and pedestrian safety

5.8.1 Install information systems at railway and metro stations, tram and bus stops for information of transport possibilities, e.g. for connecting bus lines, and install guiding signs in all areas to inform of nearest location of stops.

5.8.2 Strive for more comfort for public transport users at stops, e.g. rain and wind shelters, good lighting, seats, readable time tables and city maps, nearside public telephones.

5.8.3 Avoid waiting time for passengers at end stations while bus drivers are changing.

5.8.4 Arrange cycle parking close to entrances to or inside railway and metro stations, and at bus stops.

5.8.5 Improve the accessibility of public transport stops through safe, short and comfortable walkways, including traffic lights near by stops or stations which work with registration of vehicles and pedestrians (pedestrians push a button) in order to shorten waiting times for public transport riders and other pedestrians.

5.8.6 Make PR for public transport, cycling and walking as sound and pro-environmental ways of travel.

Helsinki Area Transportation System Status Audit, Nov. 92                                          12


If our proposals for a new policy for the Helsinki Capital Region are accepted, we

recommend the following first steps to be taken:

. Stop planned road investments, if they are intended to increase road capacity.

. Establish an organization for policy making, planning coordination and financial support for public transport investments.

. Set up plans for a comprehensive step-by-step improvement of the transport system, coordinated with land use planning, and directed to rail-bound public transport.

To define goals, set up plans and implement measures needs normally plenty of time. However, it is necessary to take steps immediately in a new direction in

order to avoid wasting time for a progressive development of the Helsinki Area.

It is our beliefs that our expressed views and conclusions will favour a sound

development of the Helsinki Area, and we hope that our recommendations will seriously be taken into consideration.

Our mission is hereby finalized with this report.

December 1992

Niklaus Baumann S. Olof Gunnarsson Hermann Knoflacher



1. Steps to the present stage of the Helsinki Area Transportation System, compiled by the Audit Coordinator Mr P. Rytilä

2. Schedule of Audit Meetings and Minutes of the Audit Meetings, prepared by the Auditors, incl Footnotes as comments from interviewed bodies.

Back to home page.