The multitranche financing facility (MFF) is proposed as the financing modality to complete the investment program. Ulaanbaatar's urban infrastructure is growing very fast and urban transport requires a range of investment in public transport network improvement, management and planning, traffic management and safety, and institutional development. It will take the government some years to improve urban transport and develop a sustainable and efficient urban transport system. An MFF provides a suitable mechanism for ADB to provide the extended engagement and support that is needed to help improve urban transport and strengthen Ulaanbaatar's urban transport capacity.
The investment program comprises three tranches and aims to (i) develop the bus rapid transit (BRT) infrastructure and system; (ii) apply traffic management measures to increase traffic flow efficiency and safety; (iii) develop and implement parking, traffic, and travel demand management policies; (iv) develop an efficient and sustainable public transport system; and (v) improve the public transport management and quality of services. The investment program will be implemented over a period of 10 years starting in 2012.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Government of Mongolia (MUB) proposes an investment program to develop a sustainable urban transport system in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. This has the following components: (i) BRT infrastructure and vehicles; (ii) a city-wide BRT system; (iii) intelligent transport systems (ITS): bus management system (BMS), bus information system (BIS), and smart-card ticketing system; (iv) improved traffic and pedestrian safety; and (v) improved public transport and traffic management policies, and institutional capacity.
The enforcement of sustainable urban transport in Ulaanbaatar, is one of the most important development issues facing the country. The transition to a market economy since the 1990s and a series of severe winters have resulted in the migration of many low-income families from the countryside into the ger areas around Ulaanbaatar. The city grew from some 600,000 people in 1989 to over 1.17 million in 2010, representing 42% of the nation's population (2.8 million). Given the lack of employment opportunities in other parts of the country, migration to Ulaanbaatar is expected to continue. It is estimated that the population of Ulaanbaatar is likely to reach 1.4 million in 2020 and about 1.7 million in 2030.
Over the last 20 years, the number of registered vehicles increased by 4.4 times. In recent years, 35,000 private vehicles have been added annually, representing an average increase of over 25% per year. Unplanned urbanization and the increasing fleet of vehicles have overwhelmed the city's transport system exacerbating congestion and contributing to poor air quality. Transport infrastructure and services in Ulaanbaatar are in poor condition and badly overburdened. Most of the major intersections in the city center are severely congested resulting in average speeds of 5-8 kilometers (km) per hour near the center of the city during peak hours. Traffic congestion is exacerbated by poor traffic management, insufficient parking management and enforcement, excessive and inappropriate designation of on-street parking spaces, lack of pedestrian facilities, poor driver discipline, and inadequate traffic signaling and control. With an uncontrolled interaction of pedestrians and vehicles, traffic accidents are common.
Increased trip times, excessive fuel use, and health problems due to vehicle emissions, are reducing the quality of life for Ulaanbaatar. Despite the rapid increase in motor vehicles, the majority of Ulaanbaatar residents rely on public transport or walking to move about the city. Congestion has slowed and reduced the quality and reliability of bus services. The poor are suffering disproportionately because they face longer travel distances and higher costs, ride in overcrowded and poorly maintained buses, and are particularly affected by the lack of provisions for pedestrians. Ulaanbaatar needs significant investments in the public transport system to ensure access to economic opportunities and social services for all its residents and to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
The public transport system is struggling with technical, financial, and institutional challenges. There has been chronic underinvestment in public transport services, which have not kept pace with recent urban growth. The majority of buses are more than 10 years old and in poor condition. Large parts of the trolleybus infrastructure are no longer functioning due to lack of maintenance, service quality is deteriorating, and bus operators are under increasing financial stress. About 40% of public transport passengers are subsidized by the municipal budget, but the mechanism for allocating subsidies to bus operators lacks transparency and is perceived as inequitable. As a result, bus operators lack the financial resources to renew and expand their bus fleets and provide an adequate level of service.
While the total number of recorded traffic accidents may have peaked in the year 2000 and appear to have been falling since then, the rates of traffic fatalities and personal injury accidents relative to the number of registered vehicles are alarming. The capital city is home for about 42% of the total population of Mongolia, but Ulaanbaatar routinely accounts for over 70% of annual traffic accidents in the country. An incidence of 7.5 deaths per 10,000 vehicles per year highlights the need for continued improvements in urban road safety and better protection for pedestrians.
The road network in Ulaanbaatar has not been expanded to accommodate the increased population and vehicle numbers. Between 2007 and 2011, 42.5 km of new road have been completed and 68 km have been rehabilitated, but from 1990 to 2006, only two road construction projects were carried out, both financed by bilateral donor agencies. The result is exceptionally slow operating speeds for both public transport and private vehicles. There is also a need for improved road maintenance. At present, about 65% of Ulaanbaatar's road network is in poor condition. The road network is particularly deficient in the outlying residential ger areas, where many low income families live. The city's ger areas are home to over 700,000 people representing over 60% of its population. The lack of a reliable road network is a major barrier to the provision of public transport services into these areas.