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urban transport

In data-scarce environments, disruptive thinking is needed: Freetown transport resilience

Fatima Arroyo Arroyo's picture


When our team started working in Freetown one year ago, we found very limited data on how people move or what are the public transport options to access jobs and services from different neighborhoods. How do you plan your public transport system when you do not have data? And what if you are also constrained by a highly vulnerable environment to natural disasters and poverty? Keep reading: Disruptive thinking has the answer.

Context

Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city, is a vibrant city with an increasing population and a growing economy—and probably the best beaches in the region. It is a densely populated, congested city situated on a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the estuary of the Sierra Leone River and mountains, with very little flat space. The city creates 30% of the country’s GDP, which evidences the importance for the national economy. Although Freetown is the main employment center in Sierra Leone, the access to jobs and services in the city is heavily impaired by inadequate transport services and infrastructure and a chronic congestion.  

Want successful urban transport mega-projects? Here are seven things you should keep in mind

Bianca Bianchi Alves's picture


In 2002, Sao Paulo’s embarked in one of the most transformative transport projects of the decade: the construction of Metro Line 4. The new line had big ambitions: it was meant to significantly improve the commuting experience, better connect the south and western regions of the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Region (SPMR) to the center, change the metro system from a radial to a flexible network, and interconnect all transport modes, including buses, suburban trains (CPTM), bicycles, as well as existing and future metro lines.

Line 4 was also the first metro project in Brazil to be designed as a Public-Private Partnership, whereby operation and maintenance (O&M) was concessioned to a private company for 30 years. The project was segmented into 2 construction phases, both of which were technically and financially supported by the World Bank from 2002.

When finished, Metro Line 4 will feature a total of 11 stations along a 14.4-km alignment, 29 trains in operation, four integrated bus terminals, and one dedicated train yard. It will carry nearly 1 million passengers per day. Since the opening of the first segment in 2010, the line has experienced high passenger traffic and allowed for a significant reduction in journey times. In 2012, Line 4 even featured among the 100 most innovative infrastructure projects in the world.

A new station was inaugurated just a few weeks ago, and the line is now just one station away from completion. Once the whole project is operational by 2020, aha resident of Vila Sonia in the western part of the city will need only 20 minutes to reach Luz station at the opposite side of the city, compared to one hour in 2002.Today they can already reach it in 32 minutes!

Now that the Line 4 odyssey has almost concluded, it can teach us a number of valuable lessons about what it takes to implement such complex infrastructure projects in a dense urban area like Sao Paulo.

How can shared and on-demand mobility complement public transit?

Nathalie Picarelli's picture
Photo: Diego Torres Sivlestre/Flickr
São Paulo is home to 20.7 million residents, making it the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. Commuting in this bustling Brazilian city is a serious affair: the region sees a whopping 44 million trips every day, with public transit, motorized and non-motorized modes each accounting for about 1/3 of the total. The average public transit commute clocks in at 67 minutes. However, commuting times can be much longer for those in the periphery, where lower-income households tend to live. This penalizes the mobility of the poor. For instance, wealthier residents take almost twice as many trips as poorer residents.
 
While public transit has a relatively high reach across the metropolitan region, it falls short of the growing demand, and historical underinvestment has led to growing motorization. Congestion in Sao Paulo is among the worst in Latin America. In 2013, the productivity losses and pollution associated with congestion costed the metropolitan area close to 8% of its GDP, or over 1% of Brazil’s total GDP.
 
In the last decades, the World Bank Group has been working closely with São Paulo to boost public transport infrastructure and policies, which has helped the city expand mass transit coverage and develop a more comprehensive approach to urban transport.
 
The latest wave of disruptive technologies that is reshaping the transport sector –including shared mobility platforms, electric vehicles, and automation— are now providing exciting new ways to build on these gains. If properly integrated into broader public transport policies, these innovations have the potential to reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles, decrease pollution and carbon emissions, improve traffic flow, and save energy.
 
Among all these new technologies, let’s take a closer look at shared mobility and on-demand mobility solutions like ride-hailing apps or bikeshare systems, which have been growing rapidly around the world.

One Bus Away: How unbundling bus provision from operation can support bus modernization programs

Leonardo Canon Rubiano's picture
Photo credit: Leonardo Canon Rubiano/World Bank
The World Bank is supporting the Government of Sri Lanka’s efforts to create a roadmap for the modernization of urban bus services in the capital, Colombo. We have discussed ways in how cities with high-quality public bus networks have approached the issue: the public sector is responsible for infrastructure development, network and service planning, and regulating and monitoring of operations, while efficiency-oriented bus companies operate the services according to well-defined contracts.

How can Indonesia achieve a more sustainable transport system?

Tomás Herrero Diez's picture
Photo: UN Women/Flickr
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,500 islands, is the fourth most populous country in the world, with 261 million inhabitants, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, with a nominal Gross Domestic Product of $933 billion.

Central government spending on transport increased by threefold between 2010-2016. This has enabled the country to extend its transport network capacity and improve access to some of the most remote areas across the archipelago.

The country has a road network of about 538,000 km, of which about 47,000 km are national roads, and 1,000 km are expressways. Heavy congestion and low traffic speeds translate into excessively long journey times. In fact, traveling a mere 100 km can take 2.5 to 4 hours. The country relies heavily on waterborne transport and has about 1,500 ports, with most facilities approaching their capacity limits, especially in Eastern Indonesia. Connectivity between ports and land infrastructure is limited or non-existent. The rail network is limited (6,500 km across the islands of Java and Sumatra) and poorly maintained. The country’s 39 international and 191 domestic airports mainly provide passenger services, and many are also reaching their capacity limits.

Data analytics for transport planning: five lessons from the field

Tatiana Peralta Quiros's picture
Photo: Justin De La Ornellas/Flickr
When we think about what transport will look like in the future, one of the key things we know is that it will be filled and underpinned by data.

We constantly hear about the unlimited opportunities coming from the use of data. However, a looming question is yet to be answered: How do we sustainably go from data to planning? The goal of governments should not be to amass the largest amount of data, but rather “to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Those insights will help drive better planning and policy making.

Last year, as part of the Word Bank’s longstanding engagement on urban transport in Argentina, we started working with the Ministry of Transport’s Planning Department to tap the potential of data analytics for transport planning. The goal was to create a set of tools that could be deployed to collect and use data for improved transport planning.

In that context, we lead the development of a tool that derives origin-destination matrices from public transport smartcards, giving us new insight into the mobility patterns of Buenos Aires residents. The project also supported the creation of a smartphone application that collects high-resolution mobility data and can be used for citizen engagement through dynamic mobility surveys. This has helped to update the transport model in Buenos Aires city metropolitan area (AMBA).

Here are some of the lessons we learnt from that experience.

Mobility constraints undermine the potential of Haitian cities

Roger Gorham's picture
Photo: UNDP/Flickr
At about 3:30am most weekday mornings, Lovelie is by the roadside near her home in Kenscoff, Haiti, waiting for a vehicle with her produce of carrots and broccoli. With luck, a ‘camion’ with sufficient room for her and her bundles will come by soon, to take her for the 22-kilometer trip to the Croix-de-Bossales market in the center of Port-au-Prince, where she has a stall. If not, she will have to take a ‘tap-tap’, informal urban public transport similar to that found in many cities of the developing world, operated by small-scale entrepreneurs using second-hand vehicles – in Haiti’s case, imported pick-up trucks from the United States, modified to seat 14 on the flat bed, with standing room for a few more.

Lovelie prefers to pay more for a camion than take a tap-tap, because the former will take her directly to the market in 55 minutes. Tap-tap operators, to maximize revenues, limit the distance they operate to no more than 5 kilometers, so she would have to change three or four times, which is not easy with her bundles of goods. But she may not have a choice, if the camions are full by the time they get to her, as they often are.

Understanding the realities of urban transport as experienced by people like Lovelie was key for the forthcoming Haitian Urban Mobility Study and the Haiti Urbanization Review, two distinct but interdependent studies developed by the World Bank’s transport and urban development teams.

The transition to low-carbon buses in Mexico: It’s not (only) about the money

Alejandro Hoyos Guerrero's picture
Credit: Taís Policanti/WRI
Transitioning from diesel buses to cleaner technologies can significantly contribute to tackling air pollution in cities and reducing the carbon footprint of urban transport. As alternatives to diesel are getting more and more viable, many governments and development partners are encouraging bus operators to make the switch, mostly by offering financial incentives such as example 1 or example 2.

However, after promoting cleaner buses in Mexico for five years, we have seen firsthand that financial incentives alone are not enough. Specifically, there are three main obstacles that impede the expansion of cleaner bus fleets, and should be addressed appropriately.

New technologies and risk aversion

In general, private bus operators tend to be very risk averse when it comes to experimenting with new vehicle technologies. This is not exactly surprising: according to our own calculations from different projects in Latin America, variables related to vehicle performance—like fuel and maintenance—make up over 2/3 of costs over the life cycle of a conventional diesel bus. In that context, operators who are not familiar with the performance of new vehicle technologies can understandably perceive the transition to a cleaner fleet as a huge financial gamble.

Inclusive transport will be critical to women’s empowerment—and to development as a whole

Nato Kurshitashvili's picture
Also available in: Español
Also available in:  Español | العربية
Photo: WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis/Flickr
Does separating women on public transport tackle the wider problem of sexual harassment and assault, or does it merely move the problem around? How can governments combat sexual harassment on public transport without segregating transport by gender? Does the employment of women in the sector contribute to designing better solutions to improve women’s personal security in public transport and enhance their mobility? Experts on both sides of the issue debated these and other questions at a recent event on “Women as Transport Users and Transport Services Providers – What Works and What Doesn’t” hosted by the World Bank’s transport team. Data reveals that while a significant share of women all over the world experience sexual harassment on public transport, often in pandemic proportions, the majority of cases goes unreported.
 
The session was conceived to explore development implications of women-only transport; highlight why laws matter for women in the transport sector; and better prepare World Bank staff to discuss these two topics with their respective clients.
 
The women-only transport concept regularly catches the media’s attention and has been debated before. Those who favor providing women with the option of gender segregated transport say it provides much-needed safety for women and facilitates their access to income-earning opportunities and various services. Those against segregation say it further reinforces gender inequalities and entrenches sexist attitudes.

Sustainable mobility and citizen engagement: Korea shows the way

Julie Babinard's picture
Suwon's EcoMobility Festival. Photo: Carlos Felipe Pardo
The discussion on climate change often tends to ignore one critical factor: people’s own habits and preferences. In urban transport, the issue of behavior change is particularly important, as the transition to low-carbon mobility relies in large part on commuters’ willingness to leave their cars at home and turn to greener modes such as public transit, cycling, or walking.
 
Getting people to make the switch is easier said than done: decades of car-centric development, combined with the persistence of the private car as a status symbol, have made it hard for policymakers to take residents out of their vehicles.
 
Against this backdrop, I was inspired to learn about the example of Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, a city of 1.2 million some 45km south of Seoul I visited on my last trip to the Republic of Korea.
 
Officials in Suwon have realized that, although awareness of climate change is becoming widespread, behavioral engagement hasn’t quite caught up. To overcome this challenge, the city decided to make sure residents could be directly involved in the design and implementation of its urban transport strategy.

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