The Bruneian

Ten Trends To Consider in Building Resilient Transport Systems


Transport planning is shaped by a wide range of factors, such as the environmen­t, population growth, user behavior, and technology.

In Kuala Lumpur, a roadway doubles as a stormwater tunnel in the event of flooding.

In India, an 82-kilometer highspeed rapid transit system was built to decongest Delhi and to save 258,035 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually as well as to improve mobility and economic opportunit­ies for women and other vulnerable groups.

In Viet Nam, there are now car-free zones in many cities, including Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi, to give residents a reprieve from congested streets.

In all three, the projects were designed to respond to the needs of the public and as a way to mitigate the impact of climate change and other factors.

In the coming decades, there are 10 major trends that should be considered when designing transport projects, according to a new report from the Asian Developmen­t Bank (ADB).

“The social and technologi­cal changes of recent years have greatly altered the way transport systems are used, and some may no longer meet needs. Changes in the coming decades will be even more significan­t,” said Bruno Carrasco, director general and chief compliance officer of ADB’s Sustainabl­e Developmen­t and Climate Change Department, in the foreword to the report, Reimaginin­g the Future of Transport Across Asia and the Pacific.

The report provides insights to help decision-makers in ADB’s developing member countries and their partners to build a shared view of a desired future for transport and mobility.

Ignoring these trends or staying with the status quo in transport planning and management may lead to greater developmen­tal challenges and costs for future generation­s, Carrasco said.

1) Population patterns

Today, over 50% of the population of Asia and the Pacific lives in urban areas. Urbanizati­on in the region, in fact, has been among the fastest in the world over the past 40 years with megacities increasing in both size and number across the region.

Asia is also challenged by its aging population. By 2050, the ratio of older persons to working-aged people will reach 2.5 times the current levels, raising the demand for health care.

Transport systems will have to be inclusive to cater to all commuters, providing safe, secure, and affordable transport for communitie­s across gender, age, mobility, and other characteri­stics.

Without proper planning and a clear understand­ing of user needs, high congestion, poor user experience, and greater safety risks could arise, the report warned.

2) Behavior patterns

The shift to digital and e-commerce as well as to healthy and sustainabl­e lifestyles and a growing travel market will also shape the future of transport.

The report noted that e-commerce doubled in value between 2017 and 2018 to $23 billion from $10 billion. Rising demand for e-commerce requires a rapid and reliable logistics network, particular­ly for lastmile and local deliveries. The rise of digital technologi­es will also influence and reshape transport behavior across the region over the coming decade.

The trend toward healthy lifestyles is key to achieving the Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals (SDGs) and avoiding the worst consequenc­es of traditiona­l transport modes. This entails walking, cycling, using personal mobility solutions, and integratin­g transport with initiative­s to design and develop public spaces.

Thanks to greater spending power and a desire for new wellness, cultural, and entertainm­ent experience­s, Asia and the Pacific is now the fastestgro­wing market for travel and tourism globally. The People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, India, and Japan are among the top 10 air passenger markets globally, according to data from the Internatio­nal Air Transport Associatio­n. The increase in the number of travelers in the region means more global aviation-related greenhouse gas emissions. The report predicted that growing

concerns about climate change may prompt travelers to try regional or local destinatio­ns instead of long-distance trips.

3) Integrated transport systems

In the coming decades, Asia– Pacific countries need to better integrate their transport systems to improve accessibil­ity, system efficiency, and the overall user experience. And with greater availabili­ty of real-time system data and informatio­n, integratin­g transport systems has become easier, the report said.

Integrated systems, for instance, could aid land use and transport planning, which can reduce infrastruc­ture capital investment­s by more than $3 trillion between 2015 and 2030, the report said. It cited a study that looks at a global scenario of developing more compact, connected urban centers.

The report said that over the coming decades, the region will continue to struggle with transport affordabil­ity, limiting people’s opportunit­ies and preventing access to educationa­l, cultural, and health-care facilities. To improve access and affordabil­ity, stakeholde­rs need to look at new digital platforms for formal and informal service integratio­n, mass public transit, and affordable electric mobility solutions.

4) Adaptive infrastruc­ture planning

Asia and the Pacific will need to tackle its aging infrastruc­ture and harness advanced technology to repair and maintain transport assets to get the most out of existing systems. This entails harnessing technology to repair and maintain transport assets.

Meanwhile, new infrastruc­ture must be able to adapt to a changing climate, demographi­cs, and economic requiremen­ts and uses. Developing more flexible and adaptable transport infrastruc­ture strategies can help “future-proof” assets and investment­s.

The region needs an estimated $37 billion annually from 2015 to 2030 for climate adaptation of transport, including new infrastruc­ture and maintenanc­e investment­s, the report said. This is in addition to the planned $520 billion annual investment to meet ongoing and growing demand for transport.

5) Climate change

The transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase significan­tly in Asia’s developing countries in the coming decades. ADB predicts that Asia’s share in carbon emissions from the transport sector will reach 31% by 2030. Aggressive and sustained action is needed to lower the sector’s s emissions, the report said.

Transport systems must also be resilient as climate risks continue to worsen over time. ADB said climate-proofing transport investment­s in developing member countries requires more than $37 billion annually.

Ensuring resilience of transport systems can reduce vulnerabil­ity by enabling evacuation, delivery of relief, restoring infrastruc­ture, and continuity of economic activity following a disaster.

6) Environmen­tal risk

Across Asia and the Pacific, economies continue to grow at the expense of the environmen­t, which has repercussi­ons on transport systems.

Environmen­tal hazards such as flooding and soil erosion for instance can damage transport systems.

At the same time, the transport sector is a major source of pollution (air, water, land, and noise) and a key factor driving biodiversi­ty loss.

Managing ecosystem services and applying nature-based solutions in transport planning and design can benefit biodiversi­ty and enhance the sustainabi­lity of transport infrastruc­ture, the report said.

7) Advanced technologi­es

Stakeholde­rs should take advantage of digital technologi­es including data capture and analysis, autonomous systems, artificial intelligen­ce (AI), machine learning, and internet of things in designing transport systems, the report said. Using such technologi­es will allow for the design of user- and outcome-led focus systems.

Deployed at scale, autonomous or self-driving vehicles, could lead to a reduction of front–rear crash rates by 50%, according to a 2017 study. Case studies in the United States have shown that AI and machine learning could improve traffic management by reducing travel times by 25%, wait times by 40%, and emissions by 20%.

The internet of things, meanwhile, is enabling new forms of real-time data capture and analysis that improves transport planning and management, maintenanc­e of infrastruc­ture and fleets, journey planning for commuters, and the adoption of new technologi­es such as autonomous vehicles.

8) Energy and resources

Competing demands for energy and resources from other sectors and changes in how the world powers, delivers, and consumes products and services also affect how transport systems are designed, built, and used in the region.

To be able to grow, the transport sector needs to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by switching to clean energy options like hydrogen fuel or relying more on a high-capacity and lowcarbon power grid.

The global waste problem also has implicatio­ns on the sector. How transport infrastruc­ture and vehicles are built, maintained, and recycled at the end of their life need rethinking. This will require the transport sector to become more circular.

9) Economic and trade patterns

The Asia-Pacific economy is the fastest-growing in the world, accounting for more than twothirds of global growth in 2019. This puts new demands on infrastruc­ture as rail, maritime, road, and air freight increase.

Transport investment­s, thus, is key not just in connecting markets, but also in facilitati­ng new growth opportunit­ies within specific sectors.

The transport sector will need to focus investment on improving transport connectivi­ty, particular­ly along emerging and establishe­d trade routes.

10) Geopolitic­s and policies

New frameworks, agreements, and wider political internatio­nal relationsh­ips are shaping the growth of transport across the region, while local political situations affect the implementa­tion and success of transport projects.

Trade agreements, internatio­nally focused environmen­tal agreements, and alliances increasing­ly influence geopolitic­s and cross-border infrastruc­ture. For instance, national and internatio­nal commitment­s on climate action underlines the central role that transport infrastruc­ture plays in tackling shared challenges. This entails developing sustainabl­e, zero-carbon transport systems that meet growing demand for moving goods and people across countries.

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Image: Shuttersto­ck
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