This issue of World Transport Policy and Practice opens the journal’s 20th year of consistent commitment to sustainable transport, which embraces the urgent need to cut global emissions of carbon dioxide, to reduce the amount of new infrastructure of all kinds and to highlight the importance of future generations, the poor, those who live in degraded environments and those deprived of human rights by planning systems that put a higher importance on economic objectives than on the environment and social justice.
These are important messages for transport planning and policy around the world, and exactly the level of thinking that is much needed to move Penang from the Old to the New Mobility Agenda. Read on.
The lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg reports on the wrong-headed intensification of the mobility paradigm which is now firmly locked into a very strong, highly destructive infrastructure fetish. Articles by Jeff Kenworthy (Australia) , Nguyen Thi Cat Tuong (Vietnam), John Baptist Gauci (Malta), and the team of Mary Surridge, Cathy Green, Dynes Kaluba and Victor Simfukwe (Zambia) complete this latest edition of the Journal.
World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 20, No. 1
Table of Contents
Abstract and Keywords
Filling a Gap in the Referral System: Linking Communities to Quality Maternal Health Care Via an Emergency Transport System in Six Districts of Zambia – Mary Surridge, Cathy Green, Dynes Kaluba and Victor Smfukwe
Campus Transportation: A students’ perspective – John Baptist Gauci
Daily Mobility Patterns and Policy Implications for Forty-Three Global Cities in 1995 and 2005 – Jeff Kenworthy
Determinants of private mode choice in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Nguyen Thi Cat Tuong
–> Download latest issue: Volume 20 Number 1
The start of yet another year in the UK has been marked by an intensification of the mobility paradigm which is now firmly locked into a very strong infrastructure fetish. In practical terms this means that the UK government is determined to pursue higher levels of mobility.
It is an absolute given in policy making and “expert” circles that human progress depends on more of us travelling more miles, making more trips and wherever possible going faster than ever before. Mobility is a key part of the bigger paradigm that promotes endless economic growth and promises a new utopia based on more roads, more airports, more cars and more journeys.
The pursuit of endless economic growth is a mistake of historic proportions but is very resistant to logic, analysis or reflection. The pursuit of economic growth provides the story line and backdrop to billions of dollars, pounds and Euros devoted to infrastructure projects. Infrastructure is the new(ish) magic word that can be deployed to justify any expensive project regardless of the evidence that proves otherwise.
The infrastructure fetish is thriving at every level of government. The European Union has expanded its Napoleonic vision of a supra national state criss-crossed by major road and rail projects and has put billions of Euros into its Trans European Network (TENs) projects.
The UK supports useless road projects because they will create jobs and the evidence is clear that they do not create jobs. Politicians and “experts” claim that new roads, motorways and high speed trains will “rebalance” the nation to remove north-south differentials in economic performance and GDP. There is no evidence that linking disparate regions with expensive motorways or high speed rail will improve the economic performance of “lagging regions”.
Meanwhile back in the world of rationality and evidence based thinking we are drowning under the weight of evidence that shows the failure of new roads to create jobs, the intellectual bankruptcy of argument around travel time savings and the degree to which new road capacity creates extra traffic. Those who support expensive new transport infrastructure assiduously ignore the literature that shows the propensity of human beings to allocate approximately 1.1 hours per day to moving around.
If we fund and build expensive transport infrastructure to encourage travel on the promise of time savings the human response is to increase the distance travelled and consume the time saving as extra distance. The whole edifice of benefit-cost analysis and time saving is deeply flawed and should be rejected and policies should be put in place to reduce distances travelled and not increase them whilst at the same time delivering significant improvements in accessibility.
In this issue of WTPP Jeff Kenworthy has enriched our global evidence base in a number of very important ways by looking at the distances we travel by mode of transport. In a study of 43 world cities he maps out the variations in car use, walking, cycling and public transport patronage. This shows that the mobility growth paradigm is not inevitable or some kind of immutable physical law. Cities can manage very well indeed at low levels of car use, lower levels of distances travelled and high levels of walking, cycling and public transport. He shows that car use is showing a small decline and this supports the peak car use hypothesis. Several authors have pointed out that car use is now in decline after many years of growth.
It is interesting that UK government rejects peak car use and maintains a traditional view that car use will continue to increase. Kenworthy’s data show otherwise and he moves from data to policy recommendations to produce a 9 point plan for delivering sustainable transport outcomes in global cities. This 9 point plan deserves very careful attention, adoption and delivery in a world not obsessed by growth in the demand for transport and the encouragement of this growth by massive subsidies and new infrastructure.
Cat Tuong Nguyen paints a very vivid picture of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam. The rapid growth of motorised transport in this city demonstrates the power of the mobility paradigm to produce rapid changes in cities that were very recently dominated by walking and cycling trips. HCMC is now dominated by the use of motorised two wheelers. This rapid transformation produces serious congestion, pollution and road safety problems and discriminates against the poor and vulnerable road users.
The article by Mary Surridge, Cathy Green and colleagues about maternal deaths and access to health care facilities in rural Zambia is a timely reminder of the importance of accessibility to things that really do matter and the irrelevance of much western funded transport infrastructure to the lives of women, the poor and rural dwellers in Africa. The fact that 350,000 women die each year as a result of childbirth complications and 75% of these deaths could be prevented through “timely access to essential health care” is a powerful indicator of the failure of health policy and the total irrelevance of the mobility paradigm and infrastructure spending to the lives of ordinary people.
Those in need of health care require health facilities nearer to where they live and an organisational infrastructure to get them to the facility. It is highly unlikely that a new road funded by some external agency will solve access to health care problems for those that need access. Most transport planning still pays lip service to accessibility as a worthy objective but the ideological dominance of mobility has all but exterminated any serious attempt to improve accessibility in a way that benefits all social groups, both genders and those who walk and cycle. This is glaringly obvious in rural Zambia but is also present in large swathes of urban and rural Britain where making contact with health care or local shops is increasingly difficult for those without a car.
Interestingly UK researchers have coined the term “food desert” to describe the situation in urban areas where local residents simply do not have access to food shops that sell the basics of a healthy diet. A mobility rich world that worships the growth in distances travelled delivers an accessibility poor world that severely damages the quality of life of large segments of the population.
Gauci brings us back to the reality of how to intervene in site specific circumstances to bring about a change in travel choice behaviour and make a contribution to improving accessibility at lower levels of car use (which means lower levels of miles travelled). He presents a case study of travel generated by students attending the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology in the town of Paola in the Southern Harbour Region of Malta, with five satellite institutes spread across the Maltese islands. The case study is part of a larger movement which demonstrates that intelligent thinking and planning can produce viable alternatives to the pursuit of mobility for the sake of mobility. Gauci outlines the problems of moving around Malta and the ways in which improvements could be made. This echoes very impressive work at Bochum University in Germany, the University of Western Australia in Perth and York and Lancaster universities in the UK.
If York University can produce a 25% modal share for bikes then so can every large school, college and university and establish clear markers and best practice examples for others to follow. If every institution, employment location, governmental body, educational facility and health care establishment embraced serious accessibility strategies and the reduction of distances travelled by car we would be well on the way to the extinction of the mobility paradigm and its replacement by a highly intelligent, inclusive, fair, sustainability, accessibility and quality of life paradigm.
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Abstracts and Keywords
Filling a Gap in the Referral System: Linking Communities to Quality Maternal Health Care Via an Emergency Transport System in Six Districts of Zambia Mary Surridge, Cathy Green, Dynes Kaluba and Victor Simfukwe
Abstract: Poor physical access to health facilities is a challenge facing many rural communities in Zambia. Concerns about distance, poor terrain, lack of affordable transport options, and seasonal challenges such as flooding or impassable roads contribute enormously to delays in decision-making when maternal emergencies occur, and act as barriers to utilisation of other essential maternal health services.
In order to bridge this gap, the UK Aid-funded Mobilising Access to Maternal Health Services in Zambia (MAMaZ) programme supported six districts to implement and test a range of locally-appropriate transport solutions. Remote rural communities established emergency transport systems (ETS) comprising bicycle ambulances, boats, oxen or donkey and carts, with the choice of transport largely dependent on the terrain. Some districts also operated a facility-based motorcycle ambulance service, which served communities within a 10 km radius of the health facility and links to the district ambulance service. Results from the programme were striking.
The paper explores the extent to which the emergency transport solutions supported by MAMaZ offered a cost-effective and sustainable solution to the physical access barriers faced by rural communities in Zambia, and the extent to which the transport improved health outcomes. Key policy implications are explored, including the need for government to devise a transport policy which recognises the role of communities in providing transport solutions at the lowest level of the referral chain.
“Ukwali insoke takwafwile abantu: where there were warnings people never died. The work MAMaZ is doing is warning us of the dangers that take our children and loved ones. Finally we have the light and we don’t wish to go back to our past, which is full of darkness. We will continue looking after and using our ETS (Emergency Transport System) wisely” (Translated from a statement by a community leader).
Keywords: Sub Saharan Africa, Zambia, maternal health, emergency transport, community participation
Campus Transportation: A students’ perspective John Baptist Gauci
Abstract: The increase in the number of students continuing with full-time education after completing compulsory schooling is having an effect on the traffic volume on the streets leading to campuses and in the vicinity of these campuses. The education institutions have to respond to the pressures that this increase in student numbers is putting on car-parking on campus, whilst effectively managing their carbon footprint to highlight the socio-economic and environmental gains of reducing carbon emissions. The perspective of the students on transportation to and from campus is thus of utmost importance to the colleges in particular and to the society in general, and the travel profile and behaviour of students needs to be researched on an on-going basis. This paper discusses the results of a survey conducted with a random sample of over 3,000 students attending a post-secondary educational institution whose main campus is situated in a highly densely populated area.
Keywords: transportation; campus; public transport; private car; transport policy
Total Daily Mobility Patterns and Their Policy Implications for Forty-Three Global Cities in 1995 and 2005 Jeff Kenworthy
Abstract: Total daily travel (cars, motorcycles, public transport, walking and cycling) in forty-three world cities are examined separately for their contribution to total daily travel needs (person-kilometres) in 1995 and 2005. The data reveal that while the car as a whole is declining minimally in its contribution to daily travel, in line with the idea of “peak car use”, walking and cycling are very mixed in growing their contributions. Public transport on the other hand is doing much better. This is true of the forty-one developed cities examined in the paper, but also in Taipei and Sao Paulo where a different picture may have been expected based upon rapid motorization in these less developed cities. These data are discussed for their implications throughout the paper and a summary of the key policy dimensions needed to start moving these cities towards more balanced and sustainable mobility patterns is provided at the end.
Keywords: global cities, urban travel data, urban mobility trends, car dependence, urban comparisons, transport policy, Pedelec
Determinants of private mode choice in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: from the individual perspective Nguyen Thi Cat Tuong
Abstract: An unsustainable transport system in the cities of Vietnam has resulted from a significant increase in private vehicle use, combined with minimal development of public transport. Transport planning in urban Vietnam is dominated by technical expertise, but with little focus on transport behaviour. In addition, research has not yet provided policymakers with an understanding of the factors influencing individual travel behaviour. This research project applies a transport psychology approach to examine the driving forces behind the dominance of private transport in HCMC, focusing on individual behaviour. A survey was conducted among HCMC citizens to understand their travel choice and their perception of selected modes of transport. The lack of a good public transport service contributes to the dominance of motorbikes in HCMC. Car ownership was valued, even if chronic congestion makes driving impractical in the city. The recent increase in automobile ownership is driven therefore by the perceived affective-symbolic values of the car.
Keywords: Transport psychology, individual travel behaviour, Ho Chi Minh City
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World Transport Policy & Practice: 1994 – 2014
World Transport Policy & Practice is a quarterly journal which provides a high quality medium for original and creative work in world transport. WTPP has a philosophy based on the equal importance of academic rigour and a strong commitment to ideas, policies and practical initiatives that will bring about a reduction in global dependency on cars, lorries and aircraft.
WTPP has a commitment to sustainable transport which embraces the urgent need to cut global emissions of carbon dioxide, to reduce the amount of new infrastructure of all kinds and to highlight the importance of future generations, the poor, those who live in degraded environments and those deprived of human rights by planning systems that put a higher importance on economic objectives than on the environment and social justice.
WTPP embraces a different approach to science and through science to publishing. This view is based on an honest evaluation of the track record of transport planning, engineering and economics. All too often, these interrelated disciplines have embraced quantitative, elitist or mechanistic views of society, space and infrastructure and have eliminated people from the analysis.
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About the editor:
Managing Director of Eco-Logica, John Whitelegg is Visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University, Professor of Sustainable Development at the Stockholm Environment Institute, and founder and editor of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice. Research interests encompass transport and the environment, definition of sustainable transport systems and a sustainable built environment, development of transport in third world cities focusing on the relationships between sustainability and human health, implementation of environmental strategies within manufacturing and service industry and development of environmental management standards. He has published widely on these topics. John is active in the Green party of England and Wales and is the national spokesperson on sustainable development.