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Pressure to develop more sustainable transportation sector growing in Asia

Pressure to develop more sustainable transportation sector growing in Asia
Rush hour traffic in the EDSA area in the Philippines.

There is a growing need for Asia to scale up its development of a sustainable transport system in order to resolve pressing road problems, such as congestion and pollution, with their resulting economic impacts, an Asian Development Bank transport forum observed.

Booming cities and rising incomes are said to be fueling a dramatic surge in vehicle fleets across the region. In 1980, only one out of 10 motorized vehicles in the world was found in Asia. But by 2030, it is projected that the region will account for almost half of the global sum.

The forum, attended by over 400 global transport stakeholders exchanging ideas, noted that the epidemic of cars and trucks already weighs heavily on the region, with its cities now suffering from the highest air pollution intensity in the world. In addition, traffic-related accidents kill about 2,000 people every day.

The forum noted that Asian policymakers are responding to the issue, as increasingly investments are allocated for railways and other non-motorized public transport, user-friendly urban planning, and the adoption of efficiency measures like fuel economy standards for vehicles.

Yet, Asia’s needs were described as much bigger, with an estimated investment of $2.5 trillion required between 2010 and 2020 in order to close the infrastructure gap in transport.

Sticking to the current transport development patterns in Asia would mean that global carbon emissions and fuel prices will continue to rise, with severe upshot towards climate change, energy and economic growth.

The bank’s recent projects in the transport sector include a $300 million “e-trike” project in the Philippines which aims to build a fleet of up to 100,000 electricity-operated versions of tricycles by 2020 in the country.

The bank is also providing assistance for bus rapid transit systems in Bangladesh and China, as well as metro rail lines in Vietnam.

The multilateral bank’s latest project, in collaboration with the government of Japan, is a bicycle-sharing project that will be tested in three cities for probable adoption across Asia and the Pacific.

The cities of Davao in the Philippines and Vientiane in Laos have been selected as demonstration sites, while the third city will be in Indonesia.

A.D.B.’s sector loans amount around $2 billion annually and continue to grow. By 2020, lending for road projects is expected to be overtaken by investment in urban transport, railways and other subsectors. The third A.D.B. transport forum was held in Manila. – C. Dominguez

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