Emerging economies and China in particular face tremendous challenges in transporting their rapidly growing urban populations. I am however very encouraged by what I have seen during this trip to Qingdao and Beijing. Not only that the existing system operates in very high standards in all respects (design, technology, information, crowd management, transfer facilities), but I have also learn that the Chinese government set very well-thought transport development objectives. One of the five national goals is to increase the modal share of public transport in major Chinese cities to 60% by 2020, indeed a novel and ambitious goal. However, significant resources and know-how knowledge will be needed in order to realize this goal. Congestion and capacity management in public transport systems, demand management strategies, transport policies and network resilience are among the most crucial issues that need to be tackled. I had the opportunity to give a lecture on “The role of public transport planning: Lessons from the European experience” in the national Transport Planning and Research Institute, Ministry of Transport, China. My exchange with the very competent staff at TPRI is an additional reason for optimism in how transport planners in China will shape their mega-cities in this critical point of their development.
In the photo:Qingdao Train station with the high-speed train to Beijing in the center (left) and a typical sight on Beijing metro system (right)