Rail and the City

From Urban and Industrial Environments

Rail and the City

Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space

By Roxanne Warren

An architect makes the case for rail transit as the critical infrastructure for a fluidly functioning and environmentally sustainable urban society.





An architect makes the case for rail transit as the critical infrastructure for a fluidly functioning and environmentally sustainable urban society.

The United States has evolved into a nation of twenty densely populated megaregions. Yet despite the environmental advantages of urban density, urban sprawl and reliance on the private car still set the pattern for most new development. Cars guzzle not only gas but also space, as massive acreage is dedicated to roadways and parking. Even more pressing, the replication of this pattern throughout the fast-developing world makes it doubtful that we will achieve the reductions in carbon emissions needed to avoid climate catastrophe. In Rail and the City, architect Roxanne Warren makes the case for compact urban development that is supported by rail transit.

Calling the automobile a relic of the twentieth century, Warren envisions a release from the tyrannies of traffic congestion, petroleum dependence, and an oppressively paved environment. Technical features of rail are key to its high capacities, safety at high speeds, and compactness—uniquely qualifying it to serve as ideal infrastructure within and between cities. Ultimately, mobility could be achieved through extensive networks of public transit, particularly rail, supplemented by buses, cycling, walking, car-sharing, and small, flexible vehicles. High-speed rail, fed by local transit, could eliminate the need for petroleum-intensive plane trips of less than 500 miles.

Warren considers issues of access to transit, citing examples from Europe, Japan, and North America, and pedestrian- and transit-oriented urban design. Rail transit, she argues, is the essential infrastructure for a fluidly functioning urban society.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262027809 336 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 17 color illus., 35 b&w illus., 1 table


  • In sum, this book is a very useful overview of the issue of sustainability in cities and the relationships between transit, energy, urban form, and transport priorities. It can usefully be put into the hands of public officials.

    Car Free Times


  • Roxanne Warren makes a compelling and informative case for rail to drive development patterns, moving beyond the traditional automobile-oriented patterns that define so much of the United States and, increasingly so, the world.

    Colleen Callahan

    Deputy Director, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation

  • In Rail and the City, Roxanne Warren makes the case that effective transit improvements require rebalancing the traditional central place of the car with greater attention to transit and walking. Doing so requires a more sustainable development pattern, and developers and planners will appreciate the examples of projects offered that have figured it out.

    Robert T. Dunphy

    transportation consultant; adjunct professor, Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate Program, Georgetown University; and Emeritus Fellow, Urban Land Institute

  • Rail and the City is a paragon of urban common sense with an urgent program for re-mixing mobilities to help produce cities that are thick, green, equitable, and aware of their potential to dramatically reduce stress on the planet. This book lays out the problem with absolute clarity. And then solves it.

    Michael Sorkin

    principal, Michael Sorkin Studio; and Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program, City College of New York

  • Roxanne Warren's Rail and the City challenges the relic of car-based planning in U.S. cities with a rail plus compact city approach, the success of which will shed light on how city planners in the developing world should fight their battles against rapid urbanization and motorization.

    Simon Ng

    Chief Research Officer, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong