The role of transport is to facilitate the access people have to goods, services and information. Improved transport reduces isolation. People need to have access to a wide variety of goods, services and information in order to live a productive economic and social life. Transport is basically concerned with improving the mobility of individuals and the goods and services they need. Improved transport results in faster, safer, cheaper, more reliable and more comfortable travel of people and less spoilage of products. This is conventionally done by the construction of road infrastructure, anticipating a response by the market (private or state) to use the road.
Transport patterns in developing countries and developed countries, in urban areas and rural areas differ substantially. Research work revealed that rural transport in developing countries has its own very distinct features. It is characterized by people moving around in rural areas for a variety of subsistence, social and economic purposes. Much of the transport takes place on foot and much of it is in and around the community away from the road network. If transport is the means to improve mobility of the people to gain access to the services and facilities they need, then planning for rural transport should not overlook the option of non-road interventions such as improving the siting of services, improving transport services and developing village infrastructure (such as paths, tracks, trails and footbridges) to improve mobility and hence access.
In the Asian and Pacific region responsibilities for rural infrastructure development have been decentralized in a large number of countries. Local governments have the responsibility to decide what should be built and where and how it should be built. There is therefore a need to develop appropriate local planning systems, procedures and practices to allocate the resources available to improve rural access and transport efficiently and effectively.