Book review: Urban Transport Crisis in Emerging Economies

pojani-stead-urban-transport-crisis-small-coverWe are about to introduce this book to our 4,434 readers living and working in no less than 149 countries, most of whom in “emerging economies” — but let’s make this first part of this review very simple.  If you are at all interested in the on-going tectonic shift from what we used to call “transport” or “transportation” to the far more elusive and difficult “sustainable transport” or “mobility”, especially in the context of cities, this is a book which you really have to spend some time with to read and savour. It is timely, deep, critical, fair and wise. And not only for those working in the emerging economies

(Notice: For many of our readers, students, young professionals, NGO’s or tightly funded small city administrations, the hefty price may be a problem,. But let’s first take a good look at the book and then we can talk about a possible work-around for that price.)

Contents of this article

  1. Summary introduction
  2. Chapter One: An Introduction /
  3. About the authors/editors
  4. Country report authors/editors
  5. World Streets editor commentary
  6. The price

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Summary  introduction

This book was conceived and written to provide a contemporary view of critical urban transport issues, policies, and initiatives in 12 countries with emerging econo­mies, each at somewhat different stages of development. With dedicated chapters on Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam, the book contains detailed, comparable information about the current urban transport situation in the major cities in these countries. Written by specialists in the field, the book draws on a wide range of information sources to provide up-to-date accounts of each of these countries. By assembling this information in one volume, it provides a valuable source for academics as well as policy-makers with an interest in the current and emerging urban transport needs of a large portion of the world’s population.

            – Dorina Pojani. Brisbane, Australia, and Dominic Stead, Delft, The Netherlands

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Chapter One .  An Introduction

Urban transport problems are perverse. While education or healthcare improves as societies grow wealthier, transport problems worsen. In the new millennium, conges­tion has come to be the defining feature of many cities worldwide. At the same time, transport is crucial to a more sustainable and more human urban future. This book discusses urban transport issues, policies, and initiatives in 12 of the world’s major emerging economies—Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam—countries with large popula­tions that have recently experienced large changes in urban structure, motorization, and all the associated social, economic, and environmental impacts in positive and negative senses (Fig. omitted here ). It documents the worsening transport crisis and differ­ences among these countries in their urban transport and land-use systems.

The book contains in-depth chapters on each of these 12 countries, focusing on one or more major cities per country. Although various studies have analyzed transport issues in individual cities in these countries, no comparative account of the situation across all these countries has been compiled. This book aims to fill a gap in the transport litera­ture that is crucial to understanding the needs of a large portion of the world’s urban population, especially in view of the southward shift in economic power.

“ Emerging economies ” are grouped in various ways by think tanks, investment firms, and international organizations. Among the most well-known groupings are BRICS, MINT, MIST, MIKTA, CIVETS, VISTA, G-20, and N-11.  The dozen countries included in this volume do not have a catchy acronym but they do share a range of characteristics (as well as representing the characteristics of their regions). They all have: (a) large and relatively young populations; (b) large cities (including megacities) and/or recent trends in rapid urbanization; (c) rapidly growing econo­mies; and (d) high levels of transport-related externalities such as pollution, acci­dents, and congestion. Table 1.1 (missing here) summarizes key data on the selected group of countries, compared to the European Union and the United States. In terms of urbanization, economic growth, and environmental outcomes, there is substantial variety within the group (see also McGranahan and Martine 2014 on the variety within the BRICS).

In the case of Brazil for example, the past three decades have seen the country become much more urban but, until recently, not necessarily much wealthier. The country has had a history of passive resistance to urbanization and urban population growth. However, overt attempts to curb the rapid growth of cities have failed, and the growth in the low income urban population (originating in rural areas) has largely been unplanned. Brazil’s favelas and related inequalities have been a legacy of this. On the other hand, recent decades have seen important urban experimentation in participation and empowerment, which have begun to address some issues of inequality.

[[ Table omitted here]]

In Russia, the demise of communism and the liberalization of its markets were followed by a period of economic decline before starting to grow again in the late 1990s. Being a much more urban country than the others included in this volume (e.g., China and India), Russia was unable to use urbanization as a tool of eco­nomic transformation and has undergone wrenching political and social shocks. Other factors, including the unfavorable locations of many of its cities, have meant that the country’s economic growth has not been as rapid as in other parts of the world where new, technology-based industries are stronger.

India has experienced “reluctant” urbanization. The country has aimed to emu­late China’s economic success through industrialization while trying to avoid rapid urbanization. As such, it has also put a brake on rapid economic growth to a degree. The restricted growth policy does not bode well for new urbanites who are trying to establish a secure place in India’s cities.

In China, cities have been the main centers of economic growth. The country’s leap has typically been ascribed to the liberalization of the economy, which began in late 1970s. However, another important factor is that China has also been one of the few countries to encourage urbanization, using cities as places of experimenta­tion and change, albeit with high social and environmental costs.

South Africa’s road to economic growth has been bumpy. The country has suffered socially as well as economically from its past racist anti-urbanization policy— apartheid. It is still searching for ways of transforming its cities from their overly fragmented forms.

As for the urban and transport developments in these countries, they have generally followed a similar path but they are far from identical. Shared trends include: (a) dynamic urban development processes, led mostly by the private sector, with high construction levels; (b) extensive urban sprawl, including peri-urban slums or decaying large housing estates and middle and upper class suburbanization; (c) increasing social segregation (e.g., gated communities for the rich and the middle classes); (d) rapidly growing motorization; (e) inadequate public transport systems; (f) chaotic traffic patterns, with high car and motorcycle use, and high environmental pollution; (g) poor pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure; and (h) informality, inefficiency, and/or corruption in the formal planning system.

In some ways, these trends are similar to those experienced earlier by “devel­oped” countries. For example, mobility has greatly increased but cities have sprawled so much that accessibility has fallen for much of the population, especially the poor and most vulnerable portions. Similarly, gains in speed (through motoriza­tion) have been offset by deconcentration of the population and increased travel times. Congestion is an obvious corollary of excessive travel demand relative to travel supply. Excessive travel not only results in congested roads, it also leads to excessive emissions, traffic accidents, and energy use (Pucher and Lefèvre 1996).

These problems are magnified in emerging economies due to the large size of cities and the frequent lack of resources to tackle the problems. Most of the cities discussed in this book have experienced transformations toward increasing automobile dependence. Unpleasant conditions for pedestrians, high levels of pollution, treacherous road crossings, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, inade­quate public transport, and incessant traffic jams are standard.

While there is a high level of dissatisfaction over the maladies caused by urban traffic, local traditions of public action are still weak in many emerging economies—often the legacy of poverty, totalitarianism, or colonialism. On the other hand, emerging economies have the potential for overcoming the urban devastation of automobile domination (Pojani and Stead 2015 ). Their cities are often suffi­ciently dense that public transport and bicycle travel could serve much of the popu­lation. Furthermore, many emerging cities still have a pedestrian culture and a substantial portion of carless households, who thereby feel that they have nothing to lose by removing automobile traffic in cities to improve the urban environment.

These and other issues are explored with an in-depth case study approach, rather than a thematic or historical approach. A few words about why we have chosen this methodology are in order. We adopt Cervero’s ( 1998 ) view that, like any method­ological approach, transportation-related case studies have their advantages and dis­advantages. On the positive side, cases are contextually rich. Cases can illuminate complex, underlying social patterns and political dimensions that are difficult to convey through other approaches. They often resonate with politicians and the gen­eral public, something that scholarly works in the transport and urban planning fields all too often have failed to do.

Elected officials often rely on anecdotes while arguing certain points, and their voters and constituents are more receptive to hear­ing about cases. While scholars tend to think in terms of variables (e.g., how do land-use trends affect modal splits over time?), politicians and laypersons think more in terms of stories (e.g., what do experiences in several places tell us about a phenomenon?).

On the other hand, a danger with cases is that they are unique. Sometimes they are the result of specific circumstances and particular contextual settings. Therefore, there is the risk of overgeneralization from a single story (i.e., assuming that processes and outcomes in one place can be easily exported to another). For these reasons, all case studies in this book need to be carefully weighed in terms of what is, and what is not, generalizable and relevant (see also Flyvbjerg 2006 ; Stead 2012).

Although the focus of the book is on urban transport characteristics and policies, attention is directed to the socioeconomic and ideological causes that underpin these characteristics. Transport problems are determined in relation to the distinc­tive spatial patterns and characteristics of the cities. Clearly, the unique economic, political, and cultural circumstances in emerging countries can have significant impacts on their urban transport planning institutions and outcomes.

In order to present the case studies in a more comparable way, all chapters follow a common format. Each chapter covers the following set of issues:

  • Urban land-use patterns and spatial structure
  • Trends in transport use and mobility
  • Urban transport problems
  • Urban transport governance, decision-making, and financing
  • Proposed urban transport solutions and implementation issues
  • Other country-specific issues

The object of this framework is to help identify new explanatory factors that may be overlooked in research limited to single cities or nations. The chapters contribute to a better understanding of urban transport problems and policies in nations where development levels are below those of richer countries (mainly in the northern hemisphere) but where the rate of economic growth is often increasing at a faster rate than the wealthiest nations. The results of the comparative analysis are pre­sented in the concluding chapter. By including cities and countries across all conti­nents, the aim is to identify useful lessons on how to achieve urban sustainability goals across the globe.

Chapter 2 , by Eduardo Vasconcellos, focuses on Brazil . The chapter discusses how public transport conditions have remained inadequate in most Brazilian cities while mobility policies clearly favor the use of the automobile through a series of subsidies and incentives. While the wealthy use cars, the urban poor are captive of an unreliable bus system, facing long travel times and discomfort on a daily basis. Negative transport externalities have escalated in larger cities. To provide more equitable, accessible, and sustainable urban transport, Brazil needs to overhaul its urban policies and practices. However, the outlook is discouraging for a number of reasons. The urban physical structure created in the last five decades, with substan­tial suburbanization, peri-urbanization, and sprawl, makes solutions unaffordable for many parts of society. Brazilian elites are strongly supportive of private trans­portation, whereas civil society organizations that advocate for change do not have yet sufficient political power to influence policy. The availability of cheap oil has reinforced Brazil’s love of cars. Society’s views on traffic safety are rather lenient. Inequity in urban transport is strongly related to the low level of “instrumental” and “political” education of the Brazilian people. The arena that offers the most oppor­tunities for more immediate change is the support for environmental planning.

In Chapter 3 Yuan Gao and Jeffrey Kenworthy write about China. They show that the automobile has been a major shaping force in Chinese cities since the 1980s. Comparative data on Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou provide a window into this process. The authors demonstrate how the nationally directed Chinese automobile industry provides a critical backdrop for why Chinese cities have become more oriented around the automobile. However, this motorization trend has been modi­fied to some degree in recent years in favor of transit, walking, cycling, and electri­cally powered “lightly motorized” modes. The chapter concludes that Chinese cities, though undergoing major change towards the car (and motorcycle), have reached certain physical limits very rapidly whereby further motorization will be unsustainable, extremely polluting, and counterproductive economically and in many other ways. As such, Chinese cities are more likely to reverse their motoriza­tion trend through a major revival of high-quality transit, especially rail, and a redis­covery of their hitherto dominant nonmotorized modes, rather than capitulating further to the car.

The situation in Colombia is discussed by Darío Hidalgo and Juan Miguel Velásquez in Chapter 4 . Their contribution shows that private motorization experi­enced a great surge following rapid economic growth. However, in the last few decades, the national government has been supporting large cities in developing transit in Bogotá. An internationally renowned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system , Transmilenio, has been created. This initiative and other transit projects have yielded major socioeconomic benefits, reducing costs, travel times, accidents, and emissions. However, key challenges remain, including the competition between paratransit and motorcycles with formal public transport and the financial solvency of public transport operators.

Chapter 5 , by Sujaya Rathi, considers the case of India . Her chapter illustrates that poor transport conditions can thwart the country’s economic development efforts and pose a serious threat to the sustainable growth of its urban areas. Indian cities are now facing severe congestion, deteriorating air quality, energy insecurity, and increasing incidence of road accidents. With the urban population projected to double in the next generation, the situation is likely to worsen substantially unless profound remedial measures are taken.

Chapter 6 on Indonesia , by Yusak Octavius Susilo and Tri Basuki Joewono, focuses on the Jakarta Metropolitan Area—a region which has “exploded” in terms of population, economy, and motorization. Its transport problems are staggering. While many plans and policies have been designed to alleviate these problems, they have not been implemented or, if implemented, they have met with very little suc­cess. Limited human and financial resources have constituted a major barrier. Other major obstacles have been: a capital-intensive road engineering approach focused on easing congestion for car drivers; a concern with short-term mitigation rather than future visioning; a lack of institutional coordination, which could lead to joint transport and land-use development; an ingrained passivity on part of local and regional administrators; an insufficient amount of research into the travel behavior and activities of local communities; and a low commitment to transport sustainability on part of politicians. On the positive side, the newly constructed bus rapid transit system, TransJakarta, serves a substantial number of users, and a new rail system is currently under construction. Internet-based and flexible travel sharing modes have appeared which are proving popular with users but have yet to be for­malized and integrated into the existing transport system.

Chapter 7 focuses on Iran and is authored by Ali Soltani. His account highlights that the country’s vast oil reserves pose a particular challenge to the development of cities in a more sustainable way. There is little order in the way different land uses are arranged across the Iranian urban landscape. Most big cities have vast tracts of informal, inadequate housing, their transport networks are filled to capacity, and road congestion from cars, motorcycles, and trucks is intolerable. Air pollution in larger cities such as Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Ahwaz presents a serious threat to public health. At the same time, a considerable share of people cannot afford a car and depend on public transport, walking, and cycling to reach their destinations. Most contemporary development, as opposed to traditional development, is very car-oriented because fuel is so cheap.

In Chapter 8 , Priscilla Connolly writes about Mexico . Her chapter provides an overview of the transport systems available in Mexico City and the quality of mobility they provide. The chapter focuses on spatial injustices generated by a city increasingly geared towards car use by a minority. The author expresses profound skepticism regarding the effectiveness of recent mobility policies for either reduc­ing automobile dependence or improving transport conditions for the masses. Certainly, there have been some advances in nonmotorized mobility infrastructure in central areas, but these have mostly benefitted the higher income residents and tourists. New bus rapid transit routes often offer safer and more comfortable jour­neys although these are both less flexible and more expensive than the paratransit they replace. The expansion of high-capacity transit towards the outskirts has been fraught with technical and financial difficulties, as well as leading to urban growth into areas that are vital environmental resources for the city. Meanwhile, the public sector is committed to building more and more urban highways, many with access restricted to those who can afford to pay. Above all, the government’s capacity to change transport provision is limited by the interests vested in maintaining the status quo.

Chapter 9 , by Roger Gorham, considers Nigeria . The chapter illustrates that urban transportation policy is a great challenge not least because local governments often lack technical capacity to manage noncompliant, atomized, yet politically powerful private-sector transport service providers. This struggle takes place amidst very high demand growth for services, limited capacity of riders to pay for services, rapid expansion at the urban fringe, and high rates of motorization often involving second-hand vehicles imported from elsewhere in the world. This chapter examines these common pressures as they affect Nigerian cities. It also tries to capture a range of further stresses on the urban transport situation that are uniquely Nigerian, including: the residual effects of a long-standing policy of petroleum subsidies; the policy choice in the 1970s to create a new greenfield political capital and the urban travel patterns that have resulted; inconsistent—and at times incoherent and ill-advised—efforts by the federal authorities to get involved in urban transport; the recent impacts of growing political divisions and tensions within the country— between oil-rich and oil-poor regions and between north and south; and the growing specter of terrorism across the country, particularly in the north.

Chapter 10 , by Jen JungEun Oh, discusses the situation in Russia. This chapter assesses the current condition and performance of urban transport systems in large-and medium-sized Russian cities. Since the demise of communism, and the estab­lishment of a uniquely Russian form of capitalism, the cities of Russia have undergone critical economic and social changes. These affect the performance and condition of their urban transport systems. While the population of most large cities in Russia has remained relatively stable, the number of private cars per capita has increased rapidly, generating a demand for urban mobility which is increasingly difficult to meet. The transition to a market economy has introduced new private actors in urban land development, an area which used to be the sole responsibility of local governments. The traditional static command-and-control type master plans are becoming increasingly unworkable. A similar transition has occurred in the provision of public transport services. Private bus operators have entered the market to fill the service shortage left by publicly owned bus companies but have been plagued with financial difficulties and operational inefficiency.

In Chapter 11 Fabio Todeschini and David Dewar write about South Africa. This chapter illustrates that there are strong similarities in the characteristics of transport systems in South African cities as well as a few notable differences. The case of Cape Town is used in this chapter to demonstrate the general characteristics and reference is made to other cities in order to highlight major differences where they exist. In Greater Cape Town, the disciplines of spatial planning and transportation planning continue to be pursued in virtual isolation from each other. Without serious change in the situation, the authors see little chance of achieving radical improve­ments in urban performance. Although it is now 20 years since the achievement of democracy and majority rule, South African cities remain as inequitable, unjust, inefficient, and unsustainable as ever. As levels of poverty and inequality increase with economic globalization and increasing structural unemployment, the cost imposed by the structure and form of the cities is biting deeply into household budgets and life opportunities.

In Chapter 12 on Turkey , Ela Babalık Sutcliffe shows that, while urban trans-port issues are high on the political agenda of all Turkish cities, regardless of size, policies do not always address the needs of the population. Growing urbanization and sprawl have resulted in much higher mobility demand. Responding to this demand requires major restructuring and modernization of public transport ser­vices, improvement and development of nonmotorized modes of transport, and effective control of motorization. Instead, the public sector tends to invest in costly urban rail systems while overlooking bus services and nonmotorized modes. Policymakers are reluctant to restrict or manage automobile use. On the contrary, in an effort to modernize the country and highlight its growing economic power, major investments in road projects have taken place, which propel more travel by automobile.

Chapter 13 is written by Du T. Huyn and José Gómez-Ibáñez and discusses Vietnam . Their account reveals that Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have been struggling with increasing congestion since the economic reforms of the early 1980s. One of the key causes has been massive rural-urban migration. As a consequence, many residents have adopted the motorcycle as the solution to their mobility problems. Virtually every adult now owns a motorcycle with significant impacts on congestion and health. Efforts to reduce motorcycle use by improving public bus service have not been very successful, in part because public officials have been reluctant to give buses priority in mixed traffic but also because the dispersed pattern of trips is difficult to serve with public transport. Both cities have begun to build rail transit systems but their high costs limit their cover­age and ridership. The authors contend that urban transportation planners should seriously consider the prospect that car ownership will soon expand rapidly as incomes continue to grow and, in that context, motorcycles may be more attractive than conventional wisdom suggests.

In Chapter 14 , the book’s editors, Dominic Stead and Dorina Pojani, set out their Conclusions . This chapter presents a comparative overview of the case studies, and identifies some of the common issues, trends, and policy measures which emerge from the previous chapters. The chapter also considers what kind of lessons can be learned from these countries and to what extent they may be generalizable and applicable in other contexts across the world.

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About the Author/Editors

dorina-pojianiDorina Pojani
is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of urban planning at the University of Queensland in Australia. Her research is focused on urban transport in both developed and developing countries. She has lived, worked and/or studied in Albania, Austria, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, and the USA. In 2016-17, she was a visiting lecturer at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research interests encompass urban transport, urban design, and housing. She has published books and numerous articles on urban planning.

dominic-steadDominic Stead
is an associate professor of urban and regional development in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology where he belongs to the OTB Research and Spatial Planning and Strategy groups.  He has published more than 70 academic journal articles and over 30 book chapters, including contributions to the Journal of Transport Geography, Planning Theory and Practice, and Planning Practice and Research. He has also co-edited four books. His current research interests include comparative urban and regional governance, and policy transfer.

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About the Authors of the country reviews:

Priscilla Connolly is a distinguished professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Azcapotzalco, Mexico City, where she lectures on urban sociology, urban planning, and environmental policy. At present, she is coordinating several financed studies on the different dimensions of automobility—spatial, personal, social, and economic—which condition the mobility afforded by the city.

David Dewar is currently emeritus professor and senior research scholar in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town.

Yuan Gao is a Ph.D. candidate at Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Australia. The topic of her research is resilient Chinese urban transport. In 2013 she was a recipient of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scholarship granted by the prestigious Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

José Gomez-Ibañez is the Derek C. Bok Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Harvard University, where he teaches courses on policy analysis, transpor­tation, and economics. His research interests focus on the role of transportation and other forms of infrastructure in supporting urban development and on the advan­tages and disadvantages of private provision of infrastructure.

Roger Gorham is a transport economist and urban development specialist with the World Bank, with over 20 years of experience in urban transport, land use, air qual­ity, and climate change. His current portfolio centers on Africa, with work on urban transport projects in Lagos, Addis Ababa, and Nairobi. He also works extensively with the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), on urban transport and sustain-ability policy. He holds master’s degrees in city planning and transportation from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dario Hidalgo leads EMBARQ’s international team of transport, planning, and environment specialists, which is involved in sustainable transport and urban devel­opment projects in India, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, the Andean Region, and China. He also coordinates the Observatory of the BRT-ALC Center of Excellence. In the past 20 years, he has partaken in urban transport projects and lectured in more than ten countries of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. He holds Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in transportation planning from Ohio State University.

Du The Huynh is a senior lecturer at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in Ho Chi Minh City. His teaching and research interests are urban economics, infrastructure development, and finance and banking. He received his doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Tri Basuki Joewono is lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia. He holds a master’s degree in transportation from Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia, and a Ph.D. from Saitama University, Japan. His research interests include public trans­portation, travel behavior, and transportation in developing countries.

Jeffrey Kenworthy is professor of sustainability at Curtin University, Australia. He has spent 35 years in the transport and urban planning fields. His research focuses on large international comparisons of cities from a transport and land-use perspec­tive. He has received two awards from the German government for his research and teaching in the field, including a Mercator Guest Professorship (Goethe University) and is currently a guest professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt.

Jen JungEun Oh is a senior transport economist at the World Bank. She has led several World Bank investment operations and advisory projects on urban transport and low-carbon transport. More recently, her work has focused on the transition economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Before joining the World Bank, she worked in the USA and South Korea, in transport policy-making, public financing policies, and transport demand analysis and modeling, with partners in government and academia. She holds a Ph.D. in transportation systems and a master’s degree in economics from Purdue University, USA.

Sujaya Rathi is a principal researcher at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) in India. She has more than 15 years of experience in land-use and transportation research and planning in India and the USA. Recently she has assisted the Planning Commission of the Government of India in developing future development scenarios for India, based on systems analysis. She holds a master’s degree in community and regional planning from Iowa State University, USA, and a master’s degree in economics from Jadavpur University, India.

Ali Soltani completed his graduate studies in Australia and completed postdoctoral residencies in Australia, Japan, and Turkey. He is associate professor at Shiraz University in Iran. His research interests include sustainable transport, urban design/ planning relevance to travel patterns, and urban modeling techniques.

Yusak Octavius Susilo is associate professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests include travel behavior, activity-based analysis, land use, and transportation in developing countries. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Urban Management, Kyoto University, Japan. Before joining KTH, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and a senior lecturer in transport and spatial plan­ning at the Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England, UK.

Ela Babalık Sutcliffe is associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning of the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. She holds a Ph.D. in urban rail systems from the University College London, Centre for Transport Studies. She has carried out a number of research projects on sustainable mobility, accessibility, public transport planning, and organizational reforms in transport ser­vice delivery. She is a member of the Permanent Scientific and Technical Committee of Cooperation for Urban Mobility in the Developing World.

Fabio Todeschini is currently emeritus professor and senior research scholar in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town.

Eduardo A. Vasconcellos is a civil engineer and a sociologist. He holds a Ph.D. in public policy and conducted his postdoctoral training on urban transport in develop­ing countries at Cornell University, USA. Currently, he is the technical advisor for the Brazilian Public Transport Association (ANTP) and director of Instituto Movimento, in São Paulo, Brazil.

Juan Miguel Velásquez is a research associate at EMBARQ, where he works on evaluating the impact of transport projects, improving decision-making for transit vehicles and fuels, planning sustainable urban transport solutions, and supporting the Centre of Excellence in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Prior to joining EMBARQ, he was a researcher and lecturer at the Regional and Urban Sustainability Research Group at Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia. He holds a master of sci­ence degree in transport from Imperial College and University College in London.


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World Streets editor commentary

If sustainable transport in cities is your bag (it certainly is mine) you really owe it to yourself to spend some time with this book. It is hard-hitting, focused and completely independent in expressing the individual authors/guides’ critical views. Here is an example of a closing commentary on one of the twelve countries covered, in which I have deleted the name of the country because the point here is to provide you with an understanding of the degree of independence and understanding that the authors bring to their task throughout this book. Have a look here:

Public transport and walking still serve a significant portion of trips in [Name removed] cities. These modes offer significant potential in terms of transport sustainability. Nevertheless, car ownership and use are on the increase, transit systems are often fragmented, and the built environment is suffering the consequences of car domination, whether moving or parked.

There are some good-practice examples of public transport investments, fare integration, and to a much lesser extent, nonmotorized transport planning (i.e., bikesharing) but, in many cities, these are accompanied by extensive investments in favor of car-based transport. In view of high transit and nonmotorized transport use, many opportunities exist to create or improve transit- oriented and pedestrian-friendly urban environments, which have so far been missed. Continuous, safe sidewalks for pedestrians are needed. So too are pedestrian zones that are free from parked cars and other barriers, safe bicycle lanes and paths, and segregated infrastructure for transit vehicles.

Transit investments do not have to necessarily target rail-based systems, as the trend has been so far. The BRT system clearly demonstrates the potential of bus-based schemes. In addition to full BRT systems, simple bus-only lanes can also be considered in smaller cities.

The advantages of paratransit to users indicate that this mode has a role to play in public transport. Due to its flexibility and coverage, it may become an effective solution for the “last-mile” needs of transit users. However routes and fare collection systems need to be radically reorganized and integrated with the rest of the network. Without such reorganization, paratransit will remain an obstacle in the formulation and successful implementation of citywide transport policies.

Car traffic and travel demand management are other priority areas for [Name removed] cities. Any benefits accrued from investments in transit and nonmotorized transport are likely to be offset if the current car orientation in infrastructure development and management continues unabated. Behind flawed transport policies and investment targets lies a lack of national urban transport legislation and guidance.

While national-level transportation planners are well versed in sustainability discourses, decision-makers in local governments, as well as the public at large, are unaware of contemporary approaches in urban transport. Educating decision- makers and the public requires vigorous actions on the part of civil society, nonprofit organizations, universities, activists, and the media. [End of chapter]

You see what I mean.


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Obtaining copies at more favorable prices:

My understanding is that the print-on-demand works like this: readers order the book online, the publisher prints it and binds it the way you’d bind a course reader in a bookstore (i.e., not a really fancy bind), and ships it. That should be OK for most people. My general impression is that the hardcover edition targets primarily well funded libraries and other institutions rather than individuals. Click to the publisher’s page at for details.

If that doesn’t work for you, drop me a line and I can see what we can do if we put our heads together.

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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