Key issues include planning, funding and managing traffic growth.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has published a comprehensive study that examines the region’s urbanisation challenges and presents solutions across multiple key priority areas. The authors of the study, Creating Livable Asian Cities, examine the importance of investment in all forms of infrastructure, the note that transport has the greatest influence on the evolution of a city.
Asian cities tend to be larger and denser than their counterparts in Europe or North America and the continent has more than half of the world’s megacities, so mass transit via public transport is particularly crucial.
The majority of people in Asian cities already travel by public or non-motorised transport but the rapid increase in private vehicle ownership has had a big impact more recently. It has led to increasing urban sprawl, worsening congestion, pollution and environmental degradation.
While most Asian cities have a central business district, there is also a growing trend towards more dispersed business districts growing up around transport links like train stations. The race is now on to manage these areas and secure sufficient space for their transport needs before they become too permanently built up and difficult to retrofit or expensive to rebuild.
The report suggests that most Asian cities suffer from inadequate funding for investment and operations of public transport modes and are directing more investments to roads to ease traffic congestion, which it warns comes at a price for living standards and sustainability.
The report sets out the following recommendations for transport investment:
- Focus on solutions that reflect each city’s unique conditions
- Prepare long-term plans using big data to evaluate accessibility and trip patterns
- Engage all concerned agencies and transport users for any major decision
- Prioritise public transport and non-motorised transport over other transport modes
- Integrate all transport policies and modes to work together, not separately
- Improve traffic management and manage traffic demand
- Start with experiments and engage in continuous evaluation
- Follow the “user pays” principle for private vehicles