Evaluating Hong Kong’s Spatial Planning in New Towns From the Perspectives of Job Accessibility, Travel Mobility, and Work–Life Balance
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AbstractProblem, research strategy, and findings: From the 1970s to the 1990s, the Hong Kong government developed several new towns to alleviate pressure on contemporary urban areas and provide housing for a rapidly growing population. Although self-containment is a key objective in building new towns, no research has assessed residents' behavioral outcomes, limiting the objective assessment of the spatial planning of new towns. In this study, we hypothesize that adequate job accessibility would offer residents shorter commutes and hence more time for noncommute travel and activities and better work-life balance. Drawing on census and household travel survey data, we assess the spatial planning of new towns by investigating the effects of job accessibility on commute and noncommute travel durations. We find that a) there is a disparity in self-containment and access to job opportunities between these towns and urban areas, b) job accessibility strongly influences commute duration, and c) prolonged commutes can reduce noncommute travel duration, particularly for public transportation users, suggesting that this may harm work-life balance for workers with long commutes. Takeaway for practice: Building a self-contained new town requires strategic spatial planning and a concrete plan to develop the local economy. To cultivate local employment, planners should develop a regional plan that differentiates main industries in different new towns. A good starting point would be a thorough understanding of the history, spatial distribution of existing industries and firms, and skills of local workers in these towns. We recommend more proactive efforts to a) establish more self-contained new town communities, b) relocate jobs in certain sectors (e.g., government offices) to new towns, c) strengthen an integrated transit system, and d) adopt alternative work schedules (e.g., telecommuting, flexible work hours) in certain industries to relieve commute burdens, improving both commute experience and work-life balance.
Acceptance Date01/04/2020
All Author(s) ListSylvia Y. He, Sui Tao, Mee Kam Ng, Hendrik Tieben
Journal nameJournal of the American Planning Association
Volume Number86
Issue Number3
Pages324 - 338
LanguagesEnglish-United States

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