Public transport thinker, researcher, educator and advocate Paul Mees died yesterday from cancer, aged 52. He made a major contribution to international understanding of transport.
Paul Mees was best known publicly for his high-profile and tireless advocacy of public transport as president of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) in Melbourne from 1993 to 2001. He was also familiar to many as a teacher and researcher at Melbourne University and subsequently at RMIT.
Less well known is his role as one of the world’s leading transport intellectuals and policy thinkers. He made his mark through numerous papers and presentations and two internationally influential books, A Very Public Solution: Transport in the Dispersed City (2000) and Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age (2010).
Here’s a fulsome profile of Paul written by Farah Farouque and published in The Age in 2008, Public provocateur. One of his successors as President of the PTUA, Daniel Bowen, posted a heart-felt tribute today on his blog. Update: more recent tributes at bottom.
There’ll be time later for a discussion about the immense contribution Paul made to the international discussion of transport and cities generally. For now, here’re some of the tributes posted on Twitter (latest first) that were in my feed. I think they convey the high esteem in which Paul was held and his valuable role in public life:
Taras Grescoe RIP Paul Mees, Melbourne transportation authority, and straight-talking transit guru, after a battle with cancer
Paula Gerber Vale Paul Mees, Australia’s leading public transport & land use researcher. We have lost a brilliant mind.
Metro Trains Our condolences to family and friends of Paul Mees, former President PTUA, who died yesterday. A fierce advocate for public transport.
Lindy Burns RIP Paul Mees. Articulate, informed, unafraid. Grateful for all our conversations.
Paul Barter: Paul Mees, Melbourne’s feistiest public transport advocate and academic died yesterday. Will be sorely missed.
Yarra Trams: Condolences to the family of Dr Paul Mees. Thank you for being a strong advocate for public transport in Melbourne.
Andrew Lund: Sad to hear about Paul Mees’ death. A champion for public transport in Melbourne.
MaribTruckActionGrp: Vale Paul Mees, a huge loss: A sane voice in a culture of hopeless myopia around transport policy in this city.
Leslie Cannold: RIP Transport activist and RMIT academic Paul Mees. Dead from cancer at age 52.
MatthewGuyMP: Sad news about the passing of Paul Mees. A warrior for public transport issues in Victoria for many years.
MsKatieKatieKay: Gutted to hear of Paul Mees’ passing. On transport, he was the voice of reason in an often crazy world. Vale.
Saint Star: Farewell Dr Paul Mees. Uncompromising public transport advocate & Melbourne legend. Let’s win this one for Paul.
Brian Wilson: sad to hear – I often copped his wrath in getting Eastlink up -but his logic, passion and commitment always commanded respect.
Rose Iser: I’ll always remember the passion with which he spoke about train lines. He could have built a great city.
Kathleen Maltzahn: So so sad to hear that Paul Mees has died. An important, funny, visionary and fiercely intelligent man. Too young.
The Myki User: Wow. Never met Paul Mees but as a fellow traveller I’m sure he’s standing under some clocks somewhere. Too young.
Julius Flywheel: Vale Paul Mees, a great Melburnian. He Rode Chariots with Fire With respect from RMIT TRC alums.
Tony Morton: Vale, Prof Paul Mees. An inspiration to a generation of sustainable transport advocates and a downright decent bloke. RIP.
Vaughan Williams: Vale Dr Paul Andrew Mees 1961 – 2013. An intellectual powerhouse who taught me a lot & championed the cause to the last. RIP, Comrade.
Daniel Bowen: Vale Paul Mees. RIP, comrade
Dr Matthew Burke: We just lost one of the greats. Paul Mees was imperious. Terribly sad day.
Jago Dodson: Vale Paul Mees, a dear friend & co-author. Australian urban planning has lost one of its most provocative and critical thinkers.
Chris Loader: Vale Paul Mees, a fearless and passionate campaigner who inspired and challenged many.
PTUA: Word has reached us tonight of the passing of Paul Mees, PTUA Secretary 1987-91, President 1993-2001. A big loss. Paul you will be missed.
Update: Tributes to Paul Mees: Auckland Transport Blog; Matthew Burke; Jana at (Urban) Guerilla Semiotics; Clay Lucas; Obituary in The Age; Editorial in The Age; CathNews: The socialist with rosary beads (with details of funeral); Jarrett Walker, Human Transit; Adjournment Speech by Senator Penny Wright;