Overview

Transport is a crucial driver of economic and social development, bringing opportunities for the poor and enabling economies to be more competitive. Transport infrastructure connects people to jobs, education, and health services; it enables the supply of goods and services around the world; and allows people to interact and generate the knowledge and solutions that foster long-term growth. Rural roads, for example, can help prevent maternal deaths through timely access to childbirth-related care, boost girls’ enrolment in school, and increase and diversify farmers’ income by connecting them to markets.

The sector is crucial to reducing poverty, boosting prosperity, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as transport is at the heart of critical development challenges:

  • Climate change: Transport accounts for about 64% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions. With motorization rates on the rise, the environmental impact of the sector is expected to grow dramatically.
  • Rapid urbanization and motorization: Cities will be home to some 5.4 billion residents by 2050, equivalent to 2/3 of the projected global population. The number of vehicles on the road will double to reach 2 billion by 2050.
  • Accessibility and affordability: An estimated one billion people in low-income countries still lack access to an all-weather road. In many cities, time lost to congestion erodes prosperity. High mobility costs cut the disposable income of the poor who often lack reliable and affordable public transportation.
  • Road safety: More than 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured on the world’s roads every year. Low and middle-income countries account for 90% of the deaths although they own just half the world’s motor vehicles.
  • Air pollution: pollution from motorized road transport has been associated with a wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Each year, almost 185,000 deaths can be directly attributed to pollution from vehicles.

As the developing world rapidly urbanizes, there is an opportunity to build safer, cleaner, more efficient and accessible transport systems that reduce congestion and pollution, facilitate access to jobs, and lower transport energy consumption. In emerging mid-size cities, where most of the new urban dwellers will live, city planners have an opportunity to design sustainable and inclusive transport systems from the start, leapfrogging more polluting and costly modes. In older or larger cities, technology and big data are helping better map travel patterns and needs, engaging citizens, and improving the quality and efficiency of transport solutions.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

The World Bank is working to promote sustainable mobility around the world, focusing on four priority goals:

  • Improve the access of all to economic and social opportunities through greater mobility
  • Increase the efficiency of mobility solutions
  • Improve the safety of mobility—to support the achievement of SDG target 3.6 of halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • Respond to the climate imperative—as set in the Paris climate agreement—by reducing the carbon footprint of the sector (mitigation) and enhancing climate resilience (adaptation).

World Bank transport commitments (IBRD/IDA) at the end of fiscal year 2016 (FY16) amounted to $5.7 billion. Overall, in FY16, there were 209 active Bank projects with total net commitments of $42.4 billion, representing close to 20.% of the Bank’s total lending portfolio.

Rural and inter-urban roads remain the largest sub-sector with 64% of lending in FY16 ($3.66 billion). However, the transport sector has rebalanced its portfolio with more operations in urban transport, road safety, aviation, ports, and railways, including projects that aim to improve trade competitiveness. Urban transport is a growing business for the Bank, increasing its financing share from 10% ($893 million) in FY11 to 21% ($1.2 billion) in FY16.

In FY16, IFC committed $613 million for transport projects, with a focus on ports ($407 million), logistics ($80 million), and shipping ($70 million).

To achieve greater impact and results, the World Bank Group collaborates with multiple partners to tackle global challenges.

In May 2016, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim proposed the creation of Sustainable Mobility for All (Sum4All), a new global initiative that would support the implementation of transport-related SDGs and foster innovation across the sector by developing: (1) a common vision for sustainable mobility, articulated around clearly defined global objectives; (2) a Global Tracking Framework to measure progress toward sustainable mobility in general, and the SDGs in particular; (3) a global program of actions and financing; and (4) a global governance structure to support the implementation of the first three components. 

The World Bank-led Global Road Safety Facility, for example, is working with seven other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to harmonize road safety practices in client countries. The MDBs are committed to helping achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020) which aims to save five million lives and avoid 50 million serious injuries by 2020.

The World Bank’s Africa region also hosts the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), a partnership of 41 African countries, 8 Regional Economic Communities, continental institutions (African Union Commission), U.N. Agencies (UNECA), public and private sector organizations, international development agencies and organizations. Launched in 2015, the SSATP Third Development Plan focuses on regional integration, urban mobility, and road safety—three pillars that will lay the foundation for efficient, safe, and sustainable transport systems across Africa.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

In Tanzania, the World Bank is supporting the development of the Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a high-capacity bus system featuring enhanced stations fully accessible to persons with disabilities, off-board fare collection, along with dedicated lanes that allow buses to bypass traffic congestion. The first 21-km trunk corridor started operations in May 2016, and is already being used by an average 200,000 passengers every working day. Commuters who have switched to the new BRT system have seen their journey time decrease from over two hours to 45 minutes—equivalent to a saving of about 16 working days per year. Building on this success, the Bank is currently supporting further improvement along the first phase, and the delivery of two additional BRT phases (3 and 4). Upon completion of phases 3 and 4, the number of residents who can access jobs and services within 60 minutes of commuting is expected to increase by 62%.

In India, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project took on the challenge of modernizing transport in an ever growing city. It increased the capacity of roads, buses and trains to keep up with urban migration. Modern traffic management systems were introduced to reduce congestion on Mumbai’s choked roads. The project also provided over 19,000 families and shop owners access to permanent housing or commercial space and basic urban services.

The Infrastructure Emergency Renewal Project in Côte d’Ivoire was launched in 2012 to rehabilitate essential economic and social infrastructure that had been heavily damaged after a decade of conflict. The project has so far restored access to all-season roads for more than 350,000 people, provided electricity to almost 10,000 households in secondary cities, and protected 300,000 residents from periodic flooding. Beyond improved infrastructure, the project brought many indirect benefits, such as boosting school construction or unlocking opportunities in agribusiness.

In Egypt, the Railways Restructuring Project is helping improve the reliability, efficiency, and safety of railway services in the country, which boast the 4th highest passenger density in the world. The project aims to modernize the railways through infrastructure renewal and upgrading, but also by reforming management and operating practices in the sector. Some 293 kilometers of tracks have been renewed under the project, while work is underway to implement European safety standards through a state of the art electronic signaling system on the Cairo-Alexandria line and the Beni Suef-Asyut line. The procurement process for additional signaling modernization works on the Asyut-Nagh Hammadi line is nearing completion.

The ongoing rural road infrastructure project in Nicaragua is providing improved all-weather access to markets and services for the rural population. Between 2012 and 2016, the share of rural population with access to an all-weather road increased from 945,831 to 1,006,157 and travel time on the improved roads has been cut in half. To date, 135 km of rural roads has been paved with adoquines (cobblestones) applying the community participatory approach in road construction and maintenance, generating over 3,400 short-term employment opportunities, of which 34% were taken up by women. Additional economic benefits and travel time savings are expected after the completion of the Bluefield - San Francisco section. This second phase will provide an all-season road connection between the Atlantic coast and the country’s hinterland, which currently does not exist.

The Pacific Aviation Investment Program (PAIP) is a series of projects designed to improve critical aviation infrastructure and strengthen regulatory compliance of international air transport in participating Pacific Island Countries: Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, and Vanuatu. Major elements of the $204 million program include the upgrading of and maintenance of critical airport infrastructure, including runway and apron rehabilitations, improvements to airport terminals, aeronautical equipment (navigation aids, runway lighting), fire and rescue equipment, as well as technical assistance with strengthening of policy and regulatory capacity through master planning, reviewing air services agreements and developing aviation sector strategies.

In the Kyrgyz Republic, a road rehabilitation project has helped transform lives and create new economic opportunities for rural communities along the Osh-Batken-Isfana corridor. In many cases, journey times have decreased by almost 50%, dramatically improving access to jobs, healthcare, and services. The project brought significant benefits to the farming sector, which forms the backbone of the local economy: better road connections increased the availability and reduced the price of key agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, while allowing farmers to sell their products in new, more distant markets. Now that the road has been fully upgraded, residents also enjoy safer travel conditions, as well as a drastic reduction in dust pollution.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017


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8.2 Billion
Passengers carried by Indian Railways every year
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