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CHALLENGES FACING URBAN TRANSPORT IN ASIA
One of the greatest challenges facing the new millennium is to effect a well integrated and environmentally acceptable solution for urban transportation. In spite of many decades of studies, involving research and experiments, success has often been elusive and more importantly, there is still a lack of consensus of what constitutes an acceptable integrated transport policy within the urban fabric
The paper analyses the global trend towards urbanisation and demonstrates that while there are megacites throughout the world,there is a concentration of them in the Asian region and that the region needs to devise ways of dealing with the problem.Since a majority of the cities in Asia are still developing, the rapid urbanisation of these cities has posed serious problems before the city managers and administrators in the field of housing, infra-structure, social amenities and transport.Transportation is crucial for the economic growth of the region.Urban mobility is a basic recquirment of urban economy.As a result of this urban transport is getting more and more importance with the passage of time.The paper looks at the scale of the problem facing urban transport planners and service operators in keeping the cities moving so that urban productivity is not affected.
A number of measures are needed : in the Short Term in a coordinated manner in areas such as road pricing , fiscal constraints, computerised traffic control systems, various traffic control measures, strict enforcement of traffic laws, operational and pricing improvements.Some of the other short term measures are making fuels costly , subsidising public transport.Also regulating on-street parking and levying proper parking charges can be adopted as effective short term measures.
Long Term mearures include improved land use planning, encouragement of distributedurban land development and investment in mass transit systems.
.The paper concludes that the region needs to find indigenous solutions to these problems.A balanced series of measures proposed would keep the cities at the forefront of economic activity and make them more pleasant places to live.
Keywords- Megacities-Developing Rapidly-Urban Transportation-Problems-Short Term Measuers-Long Term Measures.
The 20th century has been an age of urban transition. By the end of the century, more than half of world people have shifted to cities. Cities are widely acknowledged as the engines of economic growth, cultural diversification and technological progress. Transportation plays a crucial role in enhancing the productivity and economic efficiency of the urban market place, a role that will be critical in the cities of the 21st century as they strive for competitive advantage. To thrive and be efficient, however, cities must be able to move people, transport goods and facilitate the exchanges of ideas and information.
Burgeoning urban growth and rapid expansion of city boundaries are posing massive problems. Traffic congestion and environmental pollution has reached unprecedented levels, largely the consequence of excessive rate of increasing motorization in cities of both the industrialized and developing world.
While the importance of managing urban transport demand is more and more recognized and the large number of policy proposals have been formulated, not many successful actions have been implemented. This is largely because there is still a need for a better understanding of the chain of causes and effects in transport planning and management.
. Since cities in Asia have neither enough resources nor space to respond indiscriminately to the growth of transport demand, it is becoming increasing clearly that actions need to be taken on the demand side of equation. There is a growing recognition that today’s transport problems cannot be solved by making huge supply-side investments only.
The Urban Transportation Challenges:
In order to place the scale of problem that this rapidly increasing urban population causes, it should be remember that around 1950 there were some 25 cities in the world with a population exceeding 1 million. By the year 2000 it is predicted that Asia alone will have 160 cities of more than 1 million inhabitants and of these 13 will be mega cities each containing more than 10 million inhabitants. These 13 cities in Asia will have a combined population of some 179 million inhabitants. In the rest of the world there will be 8 additional cities of that size. Hence it can be seen that though this is not a problem peculiar to Asia, these mega cities are predominantly located in Asia and the special problems caused will have to be solved in the Asian context.
In 1990 it was estimated that 45% of world’s population lived in urban areas. Of these 2.4 billion people almost 41% live in Asia. By 2020 half of the population will be living in urban areas and Asia will contain more than half of the world’s urban population. This means that 1.5 billion more people will be residing in urban areas in Asia by 2020.1 It is estimated that over 50% of national economic output is generated in the urban areas of developing countries. With continuing urbanization this is forecast to increase to 67% by the end of the century. By then 80% of this increase is forecast to be generated in urban areas.2
The rapid increasing population causes a shortage of various facilities out of which transportation is one. Transportation is important in both economic and social terms. Transport policy can influence the development of urban areas in both the short and long terms. Transportation policy can influence the growth of urban areas, thus substantially reducing costs for infrastructure and services by using what exists more efficiently.
Every conceivable mode of urban transport is being used and being used extensively, somewhere in Asia-walking and cycling; motorcycles; guided bus systems in Japan: metroes in China, Hongkong, India, Japan, Korea and Singapore.Trams in China, Hongkong, India and Japan.Light rail in Manila; suburban rail in Mumbai, mono-rail and guided rapid transit in Japan; rickshaws in India.
“Urban Transport in Asia”- An Operational Agenda for the 1990’s by Peter Midgely,Wotld bank Technical Paper224, Asia Technical department Series.”In Asia. Singapore represents an example of what must be one of the most efficient urban transport systems in the world and Bangkok Provides an example of one of the least efficient and congested cities in the world.Transport technology ranges from the most sophisticated in Japan to the most simple in China.
1 State of Urbanization in Asia and the Pacific, United Nations, New York 1993.
2 Review of the scope for Bank Assistance to Urban Transport, Asian development Bank, 1989.
Governments and other relevant organization should create the right conditions to achieve integrated transport and land use planning in order to reduce urban sprawl, limit motorization, enhance and sustain accessibility and to exert impressive modal shifts to the transit. Introducing and sustaining appropriate traffic demand management is absolutely essential, and efforts to achieve need to be redoubled in order to improve efficiency of the road system performance and to make full use of existing road space. Serious research on successful examples as well as on developing new ways on demand management is certainly required.
Bearing in mind the dynamics and realities of urban change, local authorities should be given the power, the capability and the community support to be able to control both “land use expansion” and “change in existing land use activities or densities”, to make sure that these traffic impacts can be efficiently managed within the capacity limits of the existing road space. Traffic improvement schemes should be made with the notion of moving people and goods in mind rather than of mainly moving vehicles, thus making room for more effective majors for transit. Local authorities should be committed to introducing a host of low cost traffic management majors, designed by appropriate engineers and to balancing geographical distribution within city districts. Traffic management scheme should not only consider increasing road capacity but, more importantly should consider reduction in travel length and enhancing accessibility in order to sustain energy, to improve environmental quality and to serve and please the majority of the road users.
In view of high social costs of congested urban centers, a new phenomenon has in more recent years emerged, viz. the edge city, which means also a concentrated sub urbanization of offices and shops towards sub urban areas, which are either car dependent or public transport dependent. Ancient cities already regarded infrastructure as a necessary condition for industrial, commercial and residential activities. It is plausible to state that accessibility is almost an indicator for urban economic performance. Clearly, cost of accessibility is reflected in the cost of infrastructure and the cost of transportation may be significant.
It is worth noting that there is a close connection between transports needs and land use. Thus a strict coordination between urban transport policy and urban land use policy is badly needed, a strategy in which also public transportation would have to play a critical role.
The main policy goals :
· Encouraging a more environmentally sensitive use of the vehicles stocks, in terms of more selective use, better maintenance, better energy efficiency.
· Increasing the efficiency and the attractiveness of public transport.
· Try to use present system in more efficient way.
· Try to reduce travel length.
Cure & Management:
The relative level of urban road and public transport capacity and funding should result from a travel demand management strategy. Travel demand management aims to minimize the need for travel and infrastructure capacity. Some travel demand management tools are land use planning, grouping homes, employment and services so as to shorten journeys, public transport availability effectiveness and fares, and road pricing.
1.Short term Measures :
a. Pricing and Finance :
· In urbanized areas with substantial amount of congestion caused by motorization, road pricing offers the best solution since it promotes both the purposes; it encourages that the socially efficient number of trips be undertaken and raises revenue to finance road ways and transport expansion to the efficient level. More ever, road pricing can contribute to viable loan financing and voluntary participation of the private sector.
· Some supplements to other basic taxes which may be used are petrol tax and parking fees, which should be set such that they can contribute to the cost of road maintenance, public transport operation, the control of harmful externalities and the value of space devoted to road and parking. It is encouraged that such revenue should be earmarked for transport.
· The fare of public transit should be set to cover the incremental cost of its operation. Fare should be differentiated between peaks and off-peak as well as distance related. Since such fare may be unaffordable to low income users, targeted subsidies should be provided.
· The cost of infrastructure and operating cost of urban transport should be born by all the beneficiaries’ not just users, such as public transport users, private road users, community at large, property owners, retailers and local government.
· Financial and capital markets should be tapped to raise funds needed for transport infrastructure investment.
· Public-private partnership, build – own – and – operate; should be pursued with the framework of comprehensive transport planning and evaluation of various options, adequate regulation and supervision. The obligations and expectations of both parties must be specified.
· Eg. These measures are already in use in European Megacities like Paris ,where 33 million motorized trips take place daily,while the population is about 10 million.
b. Traffic control measures :
· The sharp curves on the carriageways should be widened to double width and divider should be provided in between wherever possible. The main nearby bridges to the sharp curves, must be widened to full formation of width.
· The roads signboards in the local languages are not understood by the drivers of the foreign country vehicles. It is, therefore necessary that the road signboards must be made in two languages local and English.
· The road signboard’s other blank side must be used for slogans, which will convey psychological safe driving message to drivers and road users.
· The speed breaker on road must be constructed in standardized shapes, height, length, good visibility painted and with cautionary boards at speed breakers point with additional support by another hundred meter before, on both sides of the road.
· The petrol pump required to be shifted to minimum 250 meters inside and of the formation of the road width with large and sufficient space for parking of vehicles and additional separate space for ancillary services.
· The roadside hotels required to be shifted minimum 60 meters inside and of the formation of the road width with sufficient parking space for parking the customer vehicles.
· Eg. Traffic control measures are adopted effectively in Germany,resulting in a reduction in traffic problems.
c. Traffic laws :
· The civic authority must be forced to shift their octroi nakas, inside but of the highway, with provision of large and sufficient parking space for parking of waiting vehicles.
· According to the local conditions special traffic rules should be made which are suitable to the city conditions.
· Strict laws should be made and correctly implemented to have better traffic discipline.
· Heavy fines and corrective measures should be taken for rash driving and cause of fatal accidents.
d. Modern traffic control systems :
· New modern traffic equipments such as signals showing time should be used to give better idea of signal timing to the drivers.
· At the crucial roads, new radar equipments should be placed to check the vehicle speed to have regulation on speed.
· Signals place should be properly connected to avoid traffic stagnancy and to reduce the traveling time.
· Proper watch on the number of vehicles should be kept by putting some vehicle measuring instruments.
· Eg: Modern traffic control systems are used in some cities in U.S.A. to have disciplind movement of traffic. In Delhi also Radar equipments are used to control traffic.
2.Long term Measures:
a. Land use planning :
· The parking bays or parking places near the highway needed to be provided for every alternative kilometer for minimum 5 to 10 vehicles.
· While the planning abilities like school, hospital, water well, bus shades, etc. it should be made to locate on the same side of the village or town to reduce crossing of roads by the local people.
· The highway and major district roads must be kept free of encroachment and civic amenities. These authorities should be completely ban the erection of statues, fountains, guidance, etc. on the roads passing through their limit areas.
· The implementation of the pedestrian areas brings bought perform changes in the commercial activities of the area; depending on its location and its accessibility it might attract many shoppers and tourists.
b. Investment in mass transit systems:
· To make riding buses more attractive than driving the car, is to protect them from general congestion. Providing them with exclusive right- of – way such as bus lanes or bus-only streets or bus ways can do this.
· To provide an efficient public transport service on the tangent rules of the lower density suburbs, where demand cannot justify investment in high capacity rail systems.
· The tramway like Bobigny will prove more successful. It was inaugurated in 1992, after 10 years of negotiations and concentration between country, four suburban communes and the RATP. The financing should come from central government.
· Heavy subsidies should be given to the local transport to discourage the use of cars by the car owners.
· The pedestrian’s ways should be made beautiful to encourage walking.
c. Encouragement of distributing urban land development :
Coordination between land-use and transport planning has been under four front of the international planning authority for years, with the result that new development has tended to go hand in hand with the provision of good public transport, mainly rail. In order to reduce the demand for long distance commuting the central government should issue a specific rule in the urbanization code of the city by which new offices can be provided only together with new housing. This avoids agglomeration, imbalance and generates less travel.
The physical size of mega cities should be limited and a series of satellite cities with rapid transit corridors connecting each other and the major city shoul be built.. This option may be initially expensive but would have the advantage keeping the cities of manageable size. However if smaller cities closed to the mega cities could be provided with the full range of facilities found in mega cities, then the attraction of mega cities would be reduced. People may opt to stay in the smaller cities where the negative effect of urban living would be lower.
d. Environment friendly transportation:
Vehicles can be powered by LPG, natural gas or battery power. While great hope has been expressed in the development of battery-powered vehicles, there has recently been concern expressed at very high levels of lead pollution likely to occur.
The planning of urban transit systems usually takes at least 5 years and needs a details examination to determine routine and the most appropriate system for given demand. There is then a period of some times severe traffic problems during construction stage. Eg. At the andheri flyover construction in Mumbai. In the city, such as Bangkok there is also the question of latent demand. This is the trip that is currently not made because it is too difficult. When a new system comes on stream making it suddenly easy to travel, the additional capacity is absorbed leaving no visible improvement on the existing network.Eg. The construction of the Paud-Phata flyover in Pune.
Much needs to be done in the region if public transport is to play a significant role in the life of the city. The city cannot afford to cater only to the private car, and there has to be a general recognition that without public transport cities would be even less viable. Measures need to be taken in the short run to enhance the quality of service provided and to impose constraints on the use of private transport in cities. In the long term, there needs to be effective land use planning and the introduction of new transit systems to keep the city moving and to assist in making it pleasant to living .It must not be forgotten that cities are major contributors to the economic growth and we must make moment in and between cities as efficient as possible.
The report continues to point out that every conceivable form of traffic control measures are being tried somewhere in the region and that with only a few exceptions these measures are having little or no effect on the rising tide of motorization
The Authors of this paper are thankful to Mr. Vidyadhar Deshpande “Deputy Director”,’ Town Planning And Transportation’ for his guidance and making available the statistical data required for this paper.
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