A mobility crisis will develop in many global cities in the coming decades as the rapid pace and growth of urbanisation outstrips transport infrastructure.
With 70 per cent of the world’s population estimated to be living in urban areas in 2025, there are fears that the necessary infrastructure is not there.
That’s according to Anthony Chin, Associate Professor of Transport Economics at the University of Singapore. He will be a speaker at the marcus evans Urban Transportation Planning and Integration Forum taking place on 11-12 April in Kuala Lumpur.
The challenges facing urban transportation are manifold, explains Chin. “The rapid pace and growth of urbanisation is a concern. Mobility is just one of the problems that many cities face as either there’s no money to improve it or people have run out of ideas. You don’t go on building roads because roads just add to the traffic congestion. So we basically need new ideas and take very bold action to solve this issue even if it means we have to upset a very powerful lobby, which is the car owners.”
Chin elaborates by explaining that choice architecture can help to alleviate these growing issues.
“Choice architecture is basically trying to influence people’s demand for car usage by encouraging them to use public transport. I think there is a lot of scope for trying to influence demand and usage.”
However, where a level of affluence has been achieved it is not so easy to break the strong dependency on cars.
“In western economies where you have attained a certain income-level, almost every other person has a car and it’s not a big issue but in developing countries and in Asia, the car is not just for mobility and flexibility and convenience - it’s also a status symbol.
The dependency on cars is huge. Choice architecture or behaviour economics where there is an attempt to get people from cars whether by the route of changing values we’ll have to test this and see.”
Moving away from traditional methods like land use planning, which is important, road pricing, public transportation, providing travel alternatives is very important, he says.
“By getting employers to change work-start times and having flexible working hours that influences the time that people are on the road. It’s a multi disciplinary, multi-pronged approach. Economics, sociology or psychology alone will not solve everything.”
Urban transportation in 20 years time has to be public transport orientated, Chin adds.
“It has to be high density land use development. Many people are against that but we have to go for Manhattanisation, if there’s such a word, of our cities. You cannot have urban sprawl anymore.”
The marcus evans Urban Transportation Planning and Integration Forum will take place in Kuala Lumpur from 11-12 April.
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