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Public Transport Planning And Road Construction In Asia

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Based on the data on 1995 data used here, along with selected data for other years, Barter (2004) develop a simple generic model of transport and land use evolution in cities. The model (see Figure 4) is based on experience in the industrializing nations of East and South East Asia between 1960 and 1995 and helps to explain the transport patterns described later. It suggests that the state of motorization in low – income cities in the 1990s had not been reached in the now wealthy cities, which were at comparable income levels in previous decade. Hayashi et al, (1994) likewise found that based on car and motorcycle ownership, equivalent passenger car unit’s capita was approximately 30% higher in Bangkok in 1988 compared to Tokyo and Nagoya when they were at similar levels of wealth.

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These differences were even more surprising given that the ratio of car prices to average annual household income were about ten times higher in Bangkok in 1989 than in Tokyo and Nagoya in 1972 (Hayashi et al. , 1994). In Asia, the relatively high level of motorization in lower – income cities in 1995 was not found in high – income cities when they were at similar stage. This would suggest the these lower – income cities in the 1990s were on fundamentally divergent transport courses to those experienced previously by other cities. According to barter, some cities in Asia have moved rapidly from transport systems in which walking, non – motorized vehicles and rudimentary, low cost, bus – based public transport systems catered for the majority of transport needs, to a situation where cars and motorcycles are beginning to dominate.

The result, in places such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, has been what Barter calls ‘traffic – saturated bus cities and motor – cycle cities’ or ‘traffic disasters’. This outcome differs from the wealthy cities in industrialized nations, which Barter calcifies as either ‘automobile cities’ or ‘modern transit cities’ (Barter, 2000). The outcomes are influenced not only by the decisions of individual consumer and private firms, but also by government policies towards motor vehicle ownership and use, road building, urbanization and suburbanization, traffic restraint and relative levels of investment in roads, public transport and non – motorized modes.

Public Transport Planning

Planning Road and highway construction have an obvious impact on public transport usage. Sometimes the impact is positive for public transport since buses need the road network to serve origins and destinations effectively. New road/highway construction can also help facilitate the introduction of new public transport services such the bus rapid transit (BRT) services. At other times, the impact is negative since by providing better travelling conditions for private vehicles, they act as a further barrier to greater usage on public transport. Hence there needs to be better coordination between public transport planning and highway/road construction planning. The current level of coordination between these two key aspects of overall transport planning are lacking and needs to be improved. There are two main factors hindering such coordinated planning. The first is institutional in nature while the second is methodological in nature.

On the institutional side, highway/road construction planning is the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and its agencies such as the Public Works Department and the Malaysia Highway Authority. On the public transport side, Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) is the lead agency for public transport planning. Each of these agencies has its institutional focus and thus cannot act as the lead agency for coordinated transport planning. Furthermore, more, in the case of SPAD, its legal remit is clear in restricting it to public transport only. The methodological barrier to better coordination arises from the fact that the two transport modes use different planning methodologies.

In simplifying matters, highway planning focuses on the level of service for vehicles on a particular road with the passenger car unit as the unit of analysis. Public transport planning on the other hand focuses on ridership with cost-effectiveness per passenger as the unit of analysis. Because of the differing methodologies it is difficult to develop a common appraisal methodology to assess alternatives between road and public transport proposals. It is therefore necessary to develop a common appraisal method which can be translated into comparable methodologies for both road and public transport planning and appraisal. Considering that the purpose of transport networks whether highway/road or public transport is to provide mobility for people, the unit of analysis for the common appraisal methodology should be the efficiency of the proposed solution to move people taking into account cost, fuel usage and emissions.

First-Mile and Last-Mile Connectivity

Feeder transport is a key component of any public transport system. This is because it serves local areas and brings passengers to nearby interchange points where passengers can board trunk services. This is especially critical for urban rail services which are the backbone of the public transport system in the Greater KL/Klang Valley region. The survey that have been conducted by SPAD reveal that feeder buses took a very long time to reach their destination. For example, the feeder bus from Sri Rampai LRT station to Lebuh Ampang took 45 mins in one direction and 60 mins in the reverse direction to cover a distance of only 12. 5 km.

This problem arises from the housing land use pattern in Malaysia where the norm for housing estates is link or terrace houses spread out for a relatively large area rather than high-density condominium or dense housing as is the case in Singapore or Hong Kong. For high density housing, feeder buses perform relatively well because the feeder routes can be relatively short and direct and the feeder bus stations can be placed close to the housing estates. When houses are spread out, these operational advantages of feeder buses are lost. To provide access to as many houses as possible, feeder routes are to be relatively long and meandering. This results in relatively long feeder bus journey times. The alternatively of having multiple feeder routes is not practiced because buses, having relatively high capital costs need to be utilized for about 250 km per day to be efficient. Hence the number of buses that are deployed on feeder services is not sufficient to keep headways reasonable.

Urban Sprawl

While not exclusively caused by motorization, urban sprawl development could not exist – and certainly could not thrive – without the motorcar. While the obvious impact of urban sprawl is on land use, there are subtler impact of urban sprawl development, such as pesticide and herbicide toxin introduced into waterways from maintaining suburban gardens. The principal impacts of land use can be seen in the loss of agricultural and natural land areas (Sanchez – Rodriguez et al. , 2005: 21). Urbanization, which occurs rapidly with urban sprawl, causes:

  • Increased fragmentation of natural habitats;
  • Reduction in biodiversity;
  • Alteration of hydrological systems;
  • Modifications of energy flow and nutrient cycling (Alberti et al. ,2006: 5)

Road give impacts biodiversity through the loss, fragmentation, disturbance and pollution of habitats. The alteration of habitat means the elimination of species not tolerant of disturbance and humanity, and the increase in species which are tolerant. The impacts to biodiversity in general reduce the diversity of the ecosystem. This reduces natural ecosystem balances, risking population explosions of certain species such as rodents and mosquitoes, which acts as disease vectors, having direct consequences for human health. An analysis of the land use pattern of Malaysian cities shows that Malaysian cities are sprawling cities and as they increase in population, the urban sprawl seems to increase. In December 1990, the population of Greater KL was 3. 08 million and the urban land area was 621 sq. km. In Dec 1999, population increased to 5. 97 million and the built up area increased to 1,555 sq. km.

In other words, a population increase of 3. 55% led to a built-up area increase of 7. 92% or more than double the population increase. Hence the urban density is actually decreasing as the population is increasing. The same pattern is being repeated in other cities such as Penang and Johor Bahru. In fact, a 2011 World Bank report stated that of the 15 developing countries in their East Asian and Pacific region, Malaysia had the 4th largest built-up land mass. The need to integrate land use planning and public transport planning is the holy grail of urban transport professionals everywhere.

There are two main factors which hinder such integration, namely institutional and methodological. The institutional responsibility for land use planning rests with local authorities in the respective states. As the key officials in local authorities are appointed by the respective state governments, it can be seen that land use planning is within the purview and jurisdiction of the state and local governments. Public transport planning on the other hand is the responsibility of SPAD. Hence there is a need to institutionalize cooperation between SPAD and the state/local governments to ensure that better coordination can be achieved in practice.

Environmental challenges or urban transport

The increasing of urban growth means that decisions made in cities decisively shape humanity’s impact on the global environment. More than half the world’s population now live in cities, and this proportion continues to rise. Rapidly growing cities in developing countries pose intractable problems for transport planners struggling to accommodate rapid motorization. That same motorization threatens the environment, creating a range of impacts from the quality of life on the street to the global survival of humankind from the unknown result of climate change. An environmental impact is any change in the environment resulting from human activity, intentional or unintentional. The purest definition, environmental impacts include those that intentionally alter the environment in a way that is advantageous to human: building in a home, the creation of cities, the growing of food crops. Public attention tends to focus on the most obvious impact of urban transport; air pollution.

The level of air pollution in most cities is immediately apparent to resident and visitor. The most apparent source – a steadily increasing crowd of motor vehicles and their exhaust pipes. – is also the major source of air and noise pollution in most cities. Addressing air pollution, while critical to human well – being, barely touches the surface of environmental impacts presented by steadily increasing motorization. The challenge in dealing with the environmental impacts or urban transport is to look beyond the immediately apparent impacts to the broader impacts and their causes.

Distinguishing between the Natural and Built Environment

Urban transport impacts forcefully upon a broad spectrum of both these types of environments. The particulates emitting from the vehicle in front of you are making the air inside of your motor car unhealthy, and also settling on glacial ice in the most Antarctic, reducing the ice’s reflectively and effecting global climate. Environmental activities tend to separate their activities into those of the ‘green’ and ‘brown’ agendas. The brown agenda primarily targets problem associated with pollution and human health.

By contrast the ‘green agenda’ focuses on nature and the preservation of healthy. However, distinguishing between natural and built environment provides a clearer framework for considering impacts of urban transport. The built environment (primarily brown agenda) is where human – made structures and surfaces dominate, from central business districts to, quite literally, the edge of a country road. The natural environment (primarily green agenda) comprises all other places, from a natural garden to the pristine wilderness. Both are concern and essential to the survival of humanity and suffer impacts from the urban transport system.

Interconnectivity of Environmental Impacts

The division of the environment into categories of natural and built is an artificial segregation. Creating this division helps to order the myriad of impacts. There are city appears to be separated from the natural environment, it depends on the natural environment for sustaining its life cycle and energy flow.

Reducing the impacts on only one environment, attempting to ignore the other, impairs development of long – term solutions. For example, the recent emphasis on developing biofuels to reduce dependence on oil not only has consequences in the natural environment, where increased pressure to grow sugarcane and palm oil threatens rainforest, but also in the built environment, where a new spectrum of chemicals in tailpipe emissions needs to be studied and controlled. Despite the differences in environmental impact experienced in the built and natural environments, addressing them requires a holistic approach. Figure shows the interrelationships of activities related to urban transport and their impacts on both natural and built environments.

Poverty and Urban Mobility

The objective of fighting poverty, which has become the priority of development aid is contributed to by work on urban transport in developing countries. The implicit hypothesis, for those concerned with promoting development, was that development was a means to reduce poverty and to satisfy better the basic needs of urban populations, on the condition that benefits would trickle down to all people. Development and economic growth do not mean the same thing, and do not filter through automatically to the whole of the society, as was stated by many experts who placed their trust in the so – called ‘trickle – down effects’ of economic growth. Sharing the benefits is never an automatic process.

According to Bourguignon (2004), many have attempted to analyses the relationships between these three dimensions (poverty, distribution and growth). In the urban transport sector, we need to examine the potential contribution of urban travel facilitation to the above – mentioned goal of poverty reduction, and to the larger dynamics of development and economic growth. Urban mobility can be defined as the action of moving in order to carry out activities located in urban spaces.

Mobility is the focus of many concepts and approaches that underlie urban transport planning and associated policy – making. Mobility is not considered as a basic need but as a derived need that depends on the location of dwellers and of their places of activities. Time availability and travel costs are the two main constraints limiting potential urban activities and mobility in the classical perceptions of mobility employed by transport policy – makers, planner and engineers.

The reduction of travel cost generally leads to a growing rate of mobility, but that mobility in itself cannot be a goal. The high levels of mobility can be completely counterproductive if expressed in terms of furthering the places of activity rather than reinforcing the variety of these activities. Accessibility is determined by the nature of the relationship between transport supply and the spatial setting of places of activity. If the aim is to make access to urban transport easier and better, as is the case with transport – based anti – poverty strategies, then action has to be based on two levels (Mbara, 2003):

  • Transport actions to reduce the time and the costs of moving (with location remaining constant);
  • Actions to provide infrastructure and basic services close to low – income residential areas These two types of action are confronted with problems of urban planning and governance, given the measures taken by government to try and contain the growth of illegal urban settlements where most of the poor live. Difficult access to housing in urban areas of the developing world leads the poor of unplanned and illegal settlements, usually characterized by poor accessibility. Finally, the access to urban services additionally depends on the mode of functioning of the queuing and waiting time, the cost of the service, the quality and appropriateness of the service.

Impacts on the Natural Environment

Urbans areas in themselves, by concentrating humankind, impact upon the natural environment in key ways, converting it into a built environment. Road development impacts upon the natural environment through consumption of natural materials, energy extraction and use, impacts to hydrological cycles and water quality, and air pollution, as well as key secondary impacts: the opening of land for development resulting in the fragmentation and loss of agricultural and natural areas (UN, 1997). Added to this are the environmental costs of manufacturing, operating and disposing of waste from the motor vehicle themselves. Barter and Raad (2000) estimated these impacts, in terms of cubic meters of waste and polluted air, for just one motor car as follows:

  • 26. 5 tons of waste and 922 million cubic meters of polluted air from extracting raw materials.
  • 12 liters of crude oil in oceans and 425 million cubic meters of polluted air from transporting raw materials.
  • 5 tons of waste and 74 million cubic meters of polluted air from producing the motor cars.
  • 804 kg of abrasive waste and 1016 million cubic meters of polluted air from driving the motor car.
  • 102 million cubic meters of polluted air from disposing of the motor car. Figure 3 Impact of urban transport on the environment with some of the interconnectivities 3. 1. 9 Watershed ImpactsImpact on water quality and water flow occur from road construction sediments, alteration to water flows, increased run – off from road surfaces, and toxic substances from roads and vehicles entering the water system. Construction of paved roads creates sediments; this impact is short – lived but recurring due to the steadily increasing demand for new roads and the widening of existing roads. Unpaved roads provide continual sedimentation. Paved roads introduce toxic chemicals, while the impervious surface increases stream flows and flooding. Roads alter water flows, causing flooding and stream degradation.

Some example is at Kuala Lumpur by comparing the five – year period 1988 – 94 showed a 20 – 33 per cent increase un surface run – off (Noorazuan et al. , 2003). Leaking lubricants and particles from tire wear also enter the water system. Motor car washing and oil – changing can enter cumulatively large amounts of toxics into water systems if these are not controlled. Paved surfaces in general produce flash floods of run – off from precipitations; in addition to the speed of the run – off, the water temperature is higher and contains toxins left behind from motor vehicles.

All of those aspects alter the receiving ecosystem. Soil and water interrelate closely. The soil itself can become polluted from the same chemicals described for water (Cools et al. , 2004: 26). This can produce longer – term impacts, and complex reactions between the new chemicals and existing chemicals and minerals in the soil.

15 July 2020

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