Understanding the real estate markets of our 12 cities means getting to know their physical natures and personalities as much as their pricing regimes. Each city contains numerous layers of infrastructure that help to create city character. In our last issue we started to examine one aspect of this infrastructure – street patterns and population densities of each city. In this issue, we have put the public transport systems of our cities under the microscope. Although just one aspect of a city’s personality, these arteries play a significant role in determining the way that people interact and how they can use a city.
The extent, speed and cost of transport infrastructure can dictate very different lifestyles for citizens and shape the longer term economy of a city, as well as affecting environmental health through factors such as air pollution, walkability and noise. Sometimes, lack of affordable transport creates long and difficult journeys to work and play. In other instances, good transport can shrink a city by putting people in touch with far-flung neighbourhoods and disparate workplaces, bringing them together and enabling a city to function at its full potential.
As we turn our eyes toward 2020 and ponder the future trends that will shape our world cities, the legacy of past infrastructure investments will either cloud the horizon or brighten it. Those responsible for shaping cities now should be aware of how their strategies will affect urban life in the future. The cities that have turned their backs on walkable and intense streetscapes, common to most pre-automobile cities across the world, may find that compensating for this loss comes at great financial, human and environmental cost. There will be additional pressures on transit systems. The cost and adequacy of these could determine a city’s longer-term prosperity.
The rest of this report looks at the shorter term. It examines how new forces have changed the ranking of real estate costs and values in our cities. It also shows what different economic, geopolitical and natural events have occurred over the time that we have been monitoring these markets, and identifies what factors may continue to shape them in the near future.