Beijing Symposium Shares International Experience in Urban Transport Development
August 30, 2013
- Growing at a rate of 240,000 new vehicles per year, Beijing’s transport development faces various challenges.
- An international symposium was held to shed light on urban transport policy formulation and development for Beijing and other cities.
- Practitioners and policy makers from major global cities shared their experience with Beijing in how to build a more sustainable urban transport system.
Should Chinese cities put more efforts to promote biking, the once-dominant mode of transportation that has begun to slip away? The promotion of bike use and public transportation, along with GPS-based electronic road pricing and “urban rail + property” development model, are among the many innovative approaches recommended by international experts at a symposium on urban transport development held in Beijing last week.
The symposium brought together policy makers and practitioners from global cities to share experience with Beijing in dealing with the most pressing issues of its urban transport development, including congestion and air pollution.
The World Bank and Beijing Transportation Research Center (BTRC) co-hosted the symposium, attended by experts from China and abroad, leaders and technical staff from Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport and its research arm, BTRC. Topics of discussion include strategic choices for transport development, transit-oriented development, parking planning and management, urban logistics, motorization and congestion reduction.
The two-day symposium is part of the Urban Transport Solutions Platform developed by China and the World Bank, dubbed as “TransFORM”, which aims to make transport safer, cleaner and more affordable in Chinese cities, while spreading knowledge both within China as well as to other countries.
TransFORM is the first pilot under the World Bank-China Knowledge Hub, launched by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Chinese Minister of Finance Xie Xuren in late 2012.
“China is a source of information for all developing countries,” said Mark Lundell, Sector Manager for the Sustainable Development Department for China and Mongolia, as he opened the symposium. “The experience gained in its developing process is like a huge university for knowledge generation and sharing. We hope this symposium, together with TransFORM, becomes a point that would lead to many next steps in more collaboration in the sustainable development between China and other countries.”
The experience and examples shared by these experts from other cities struck us and are certainly inspiring. They provided us many useful perspectives as we are trying to get a clearer roadmap for Beijing’s transport development in the years to come.
Guo Jifu, Director of BTRC, initiated the discussion by illustrating the following four transport challenges faced by Beijing, as registered vehicles in the megacity reached 5.2 million in 2012 and its metro system carries 10 million passengers per day.
- Low efficiency of road utilization and severe congestion
- Inadequate public transport capacity
- Funding gap for infrastructure development
- Difficulty in raising public awareness and gaining social acceptance to promote innovative solutions and reforms.
To help address them, transport practitioners from Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, San Francisco and New York proposed solutions that have worked well in their respective city.
Sungwon Lee, Executive Vice President, Korea Transport Institute, shared accomplishments of Seoul’s public transport reforms, which were made possible by building new infrastructure, bus system modernization, integrated public transport fare (distance-based fare, free transfer), etc.
Eureka Cheng, MTR Corporation Limited, Hong Kong, elaborated on the integrated development pattern “Urban rail + Property”, which increased both metro ridership and land use efficiency, and the economic benefits from which were used to finance the construction and operation of the metro system.
Teik Soon Looi, Director of Policy, Land Transport Authority, Singapore, introduced how Singapore built a compact and transit oriented city by promoting mixed land use, discouraging private car usage through pricing of car ownership and usage, expanding public transport infrastructure, and integrated development at transport hubs.
Jose Luis Moscovich, Former Executive Director, San Francisco County Transportation Authority, exemplified San Francisco’s efforts in parking planning and management. “Driving a car is never a civil right in America’s history; instead, it should be perceived as a luxury. Best way to manage overall demand for driving is to target parking supply decisions,” he said.
James Kuo-Ann Chiao, Former technical group director, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, shared the “complete streets” program in New York City, which provides safe, comfortable and convenient trip for all users, incorporating intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications for transit, congestion pricing, intersection channelization, safe island at the crosswalk, traffic signal and traffic engineering, etc.
Yuki Misui, Associate Professor, Takasaki City University of Economics, talked about Tokyo’s urban logistics planning and management and discussed about the measures taken in Tokyo that have made the city more accessible not only to residents but also to freight.
“The experience and examples shared by these experts from other cities struck us and are certainly inspiring!” said Guo, BTRC Director, as he closed the symposium. “They provided us many useful perspectives as we are trying to get a clearer roadmap for Beijing’s transport development in the years to come.”
China's urbanization is accelerating. Accompanied by urbanization are the equally rapid motorization and its consequences: traffic congestion, air pollution, fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents. The ideas and proposals put forward during the symposium will be summarized and shared with other Chinese cities that are also seeking sustainable urban transport solutions to support their growth.