Friday, July 5, 2013

Challenges of urban transport in developing countries- a summary

by Manfred Breithaupt, Armin Wagner, and Carlos F. Pardo

As the world changes and governments increasingly become decentralised, cities are becoming more assertive hubs for development driven by knowledge, diversity and curiosity. Cities are becoming distinctive brands trying to attract the brightest brains and investments. By transforming into places of higher lifestyles, cities are offering high quality living areas, excellent education facilities, green areas and ever-changing cultural attractions. Complementing these features with innovative, efficient and sustainable mobility solutions is the aspiration of mayors and city dwellers. However, presently many cities are plagued by seemingly endless congestion, grave air pollution, alarming accident rates and lengthy travel times to work. As if these weren‘t enough, other recent challenges have been given great attention in media and policy: climate change and energy consumption.
Urban transport is interlinked with most (if not all) sectors of the urban setting. As such, it poses one of the most complex conundrums, when trying to improve it or solve its problems. Strategies have been sought as early as the beginning of the twentieth century. However, some strategies have been more harmful than business-as-usual scenarios: great investments on infrastructure (i.e. roads), high dependency on technological ―fast‖ fixes and ―magical solutions‖ have proven their ineffectiveness in the long term. Lessons from the oil crisis 2007/2008 have again shown that quick fixes are not available, but sustainable approaches are needed.
The good news is that smart solutions are available: During the past few years a wealth of best practices and easy-to-implement solutions for urban mobility have been developed with positive impacts in both the short and long term. In general, these solutions consist in ―reduction of vehicle energy consumption, strategies of non-transport alternatives, modal shift to more environmentally-friendly modes, and increased use of renewable energies in the sector‖.
How to achieve this change of paradigm in urban mobility? The answer lies in the hands of the policy-makers. Political will, continuity and constant enhancement of projects, creating capacity among government staff and providing them with the appropriate tools have proven effective in changing a city‘s transport situation and in making sustainable urban mobility a driver for overall advancement.

Xiamen BRT
A BRT station in Xiamen, China, photo by Edz'sta
more about sustainable transportation in developing countries:


Paratransit for mobility impaired persons in developing regions: Starting up and scaling up


Impact Assessment of Sustainable Public Transportation System on Quality of Life in Tehran

China’s Hangzhou Public Bicycle: Understanding Early Adoption and Behavioral Response to Bikesharing

The bicycle's long way to China: The appropriation of cycling as a foreign cultural technique (1860-1941)

Public Transport Research Challenges in India

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