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

KUALA LUMPUR: Transport, urban structure and ‘lock-in’ in the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area

The concept of ‘automobile dependence’, interpreted as a path-dependence phenomenon, informs this
assessment of urban transport and structure trends in the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area (KLMA).
‘Automobile-dependent’ cities, where high private vehicle use is strongly entrenched, are contrasted with
‘traffic-saturated’ cities, in which modest numbers of vehicles cause great problems for urban structures
that are unsuited to them. Data from a recent international compilation are used to place the KLMA’s
patterns into perspective. The KLMA is found to be not yet very automobile dependent but a number of
strong trends are encouraging and entrenching ever higher private motor vehicle use. Agencies in the
KLMA are investing heavily in car-oriented mobility, while building urban designs that are hostile to noncar
alternatives, yet with densities that may be incompatible with high car ownership and usage. These
trends seem to run the risk of entrenching an intractable traffic crisis.