About 44 million people are being added to Asia's urban population every year, equivalent to 120,000 people a day. ADB has estimated that 80% of Asia’s new economic growth will be generated in its urban economies since this is where most jobs and employment opportunities are located. These trends are placing an enormous strain on transport and mobility in urban areas. Motor vehicle fleets are already doubling every 5 to 7 years.
To provide sustainable urban transport solutions, the region needs to address rapid motorization which is a major cause of congestion and pollution. Road congestion already costs Asian economies an estimated 2–5% of GDP every year due to lost time and higher transport costs. The region's cities suffer from the highest air pollution levels in the world, with as much as 80% attributable to transport.
As some large Asian cities are discovering, construction of urban roads will not alone provide a solution. Construction of new roads leads to more purchases of private vehicles which eventually leads to the roads again becoming congested. Moreover, further road building faces severe practical limitations and escalating costs due to the shortage of land in urban areas.
ADB has pilot-tested various approaches to urban transport operations, including public mass transit systems. While the scope of ADB urban transport operations will depend on DMC needs, the following elements are likely to feature, both individually and in combination in future urban transport operations: