Service design and urban mobility

A few months ago I moved to Milan and encountered a public transport system which covers the city in a broadly efficient way. Urban mobility, specially commuting, directly affects the dynamic of the city and population’s quality of life. Milan is the second most populated Italian city, while the urban area is the 5th-largest in the EU. With 1.35 million people in the city, and 57 per cent using public transportation to move inside the city. The public transportation network consists of four underground lines and 154 surface lines (bus, train and tram) totalling 1286 km. The way the network is distributed generates many routes facilitating different journeys across the city.


The public transport system is connected in a decentralized way. A model which contributes to the distribution of population, avoiding crowded situations, even in rush hours. The bikes are welcomed in the underground and the transportation service offers shared bike points in the city, contributing to the transfer of people. Commuters (those travelling within and outside the city parameters) use the car parking that is integrated with underground stations in periphery areas to make the public transport downtown accessible. The transportation facilities are well signed and punctual. Each transportation stop has the name of the stop, helping people orientate themselves. The timetables are visible at all stops with a timer showing when the next departure is due. A simple action that sets the user expectation, avoiding frustration. The system offers tickets for each different type of necessity, tourists can buy their tickets for one day or one week, which can be used for all kinds of transportation. Elderly, families, students and companies can get annual or monthly tickets for all transportation with special discounts for each kind of profile.


From periphery points to downtown it is possible to arrive in 30 minutes by different routes. You rarely spend more than 1 hour to cross the city. In comparison to São Paulo, Brazil, where approx 20 million people move inside the city traveling to work. Because of the heavy traffic and less options of public transportation, in São Paulo people take about 2-3 hours commuting, spending 4-6 hours a day in transfer. Causing a high index of stress affecting the citizen’s overall quality of life. Milan city still has mobility problems because of the functional separation between the city centre and hinterland, increasing private transportation. The lack of planning of goods transport and logistics activities causes road congestion. The City Council together with the citizens are working on a Milan’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan to highlight all the problems and define a plan of action for the next years. Thinking of sustainability and better solutions to improve citizen’s quality of life by combining urban development, innovation and urban mobility.


I understand Milan city as a model that has already transformed their public transport system from a centralized to a decentralized model, which is currently in transition towards a new distributed model. The Public transportation service is really well structured and organized, reflecting an understanding of the real necessities of it’s users by providing a high capacity to connect different kinds of transport and therefore contributing to a more efficient urban mobility and a more sustainable and dynamic city. Making people’s life more active, easy and pleasurable.