Position Papers
Published in
Submitted by
Peter Midgley, gTKP
Related theme(s)
Urban Mobility
Asia (AS)

Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Transport

Cities are the engines of economic activity and play a vital role in national development, but are becoming overwhelmed by congestion and the associated costs this incurs to both people and business. Rapid urbanization and an unprecedented increase in private motorized transport are creating a crisis across the region; left unchecked, this will seriously restrict economic growth and quality of life.

As a result of increased motorization, local air quality is deteriorating, resulting in serious health implications, significantly higher accident rates than those in developed countries, and rapid increase of transport contributions
to global greenhouse gases. The poor are often marginalized with transport policies focusing on congestion relief, which all too often results in more road space being made available for the privileged few who own private
cars. Travel time and costs eat into the socioeconomic activities of urban dwellers. Ultimately all will suffer.

There is an urgent need to change course in how urban accessibility is addressed. The new paradigm for sustainable urban transport calls for a people-focused approach, one that manages demand for travel and
promotes accessibility over mobility. At the heart of the approach is the promotion of nonmotorized and public transport systems, coupled with pricing mechanisms that ensure private vehicle usage covers the full costs
of externalities.

Urban development is prioritized under the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) long-term strategic framework (Strategy 2020), and ADB’s Urban Community of Practice acknowledges the important role transport plays in
urban development. This publication, part of the Urban Development Series, looks to enhance knowledge on the role that sustainable urban transport can provide to support countries across Asia and the Pacific as they tackle
the urban transport challenges.