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ADB Urges New Approaches to Ease Traffic Congestion in Asia's Gridlocked Cities

News Release | 7 October 2009

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A people-focused strategy that promotes accessibility instead of mobility is key to reducing the traffic congestion that now paralyzes many Asian cities, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) book.

Speaking at the launch of Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Urban Transport on Monday, ADB Vice-President Ursula Schaefer-Preuss said there is an urgent need for a fundamental change in Asia's urban transport policy and systems.

"Rapid urbanization and an unprecedented increase in private motorized transport, with some cities in the region experiencing a doubling of their fleets every two to three years, is creating an urban crisis," said Ms. Schaefer-Preuss.

Changing Course advocates an "avoid-shift-improve" approach to deal with urban gridlock. This involves developing an efficient land-use and transport system to help city dwellers avoid motor transport; a shift towards energy-efficient modes of travel, particularly public transport; and measures to improve vehicle and fuel technologies.

The development of the "avoid-shift-improve" model was based on an analysis of four decades of empirical research on sustainable urban development and best practices from major cities around the world including Barcelona; Bogota; Hong Kong, China; London; Seoul; and Singapore.

The launch coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Bangkok, where ADB has jointly launched a new Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport. The partnership is pushing for the new climate change agreement to be signed in Copenhagen this December to contain concrete measures to control the growth of transport sector greenhouse gas emissions.

Transport-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase 57% worldwide in the period 2005-2030, with transport sectors of developing countries - particularly in Asia - contributing about 80% of this increase. More than 50% of the increase in global fuel consumption will come from transport in developing Asia, making it the sector responsible for the largest growth in fuel emissions worldwide.

ADB is currently investing $2.8 million to help develop Sustainable Urban Transport programs and projects in selected Asian cities. The objective is to develop energy-efficient, clean, and inclusive urban transport systems that ensure accessibility for all.