Land Use and Transit Integration Fosters Cities’ Economic Competitiveness, Environmental Sustainability, and Socially Inclusive Development

November 1, 2013

Beijing, November 1, 2013 - Cities in developing countries are facing unprecedented urban growth, as well as the negative externalities that come with car dependent urban sprawl including congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, inefficient use of energy and time, and social inequality of accessibility. Effective integration of transit with land use can help steer urbanization on a more sustainable path, addressing economic, environmental, and social issues, says a World Bank publication whose Chinese edition was launched in Beijing today.

The new publication “Transforming Cities with Transit”, explores the complex process of transit and land-use integration in rapidly growing cities in developing countries. As one of the most promising strategies for advancing environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and socially inclusive development in fast-growing cities, transit and land-use integration is increasingly being embraced by policymakers at all levels of government.

This book focuses on identifying barriers to and opportunities for effective coordination of transport infrastructure and urban development. Global best-case practices of transit-oriented metropolises that have direct relevance to cities in developing countries are introduced. Key institutional, regulatory, and financial constraints that hamper integration and opportunities to utilize transit to guide sustainable urban development are examined in selected cities in developing countries. For this, the book analyzes their Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems and their impact on land development. The book formulates recommendations and implementation strategies to overcome barriers and take advantage of opportunities.

It asserts that unprecedented opportunities have and will continue to arise for the successful integration of transit and land development in much of the developing world. Many cities in developing countries currently exhibit the pre-requisites - e.g., rapid growth, rising real incomes, and increased motorization and congestion levels - for BRT and urban rail investments to trigger meaningful land-use changes in economically and financially viable ways. Recommendations for creating more sustainable cities of the future range from macro-level strategies that influence land development and governance at the metropolitan scale to micro-level initiatives, like Transit Oriented Development (TOD), that can radically transform development patterns at the neighborhood level.

The book was launched at a workshop of the same name jointly organized by the World Bank, the Institute of Comprehensive Transport of NDRC and the Beijing Transport Research Center to bring together national and local government policymakers, urban and transport planner, transit agencies, private developer and researchers as well as international experts to discuss the above issues.

An overview of a follow-up publication titled “Financing Transit with Land Values”, to be published early 2014, was also presented. This book aims to explain how to achieve TOD through creative, non-traditional financing mechanisms. Drawing on experiences from Hong Kong SAR, China and Tokyo, Japan, as well as secondary cases in London, UK, New York City and Washington, D.C., USA, the book introduces the concept of Development-based” Land Value Capture (DBLVC) as a powerful way to sustainably fund transit infrastructure as well as promote transit usage.

“The type of Development-based Land Value Capture financing schemes practiced in a few Asian global cities could help not only generate funds for transit, but also promote sustainable urban development. This is especially timely considering increased pollution and greenhouse gas emission rates recorded in Chinese cities; transit and land use integration can help create more sustainable urban areas, and DBLVC can help provide the necessary financial support,” said Hiroaki Suzuki, World Bank Lead Urban Specialist and lead author of the two books.

The new book also explores the experiences of cities that are starting to implement various versions of DBLVC, highlighting cases in Nanchang, Hyderabad, Delhi, and São Paulo. Suggestions for successful DBLVC implementation through strategies, policies, and methodologies are offered, as well as important caveats for policymakers to heed.

Current and foreseen urban development and mass transit development in China provide a unique historic opportunity to apply such TOD and DBLVC principles on a large scale in China.  The large investments in mass transit and high speed rail throughout the country can contribute not only to improve connectivity, but also to shape the cities to support effectively the economy of tomorrow.  The application of DBLVC can provide part of the financing needed to develop mass transit in cities. The workshop identified and discussed some of the challenges and emerging good practices to implement those principles in the Chinese context.

This workshop was organized as part of TransFORM, the joint China-World Bank Solution Platform for urban transport. TransFORM aims at making urban transport safer, cleaner and more affordable for development by accelerating knowledge exchanges and by promoting the development and piloting of solutions adapted to the Chinese context.

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