Transport demand to grow in developing world

Leipzig - About 90% of urban growth from now until 2050 will be in the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa, according to Yvo De Boer, director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

Most of this urban growth is expected to happen in cities which do not even exist yet, he pointed out at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF).

Passenger transport vehicle numbers are, accordingly, expected to increase four or five times and he cautioned that cities and authorities do not have the technology to deal with the related demands.

"Questions for cities to ask include how transport can be a lever to change people's lives and how to deal with a lack of affordable transport," said De Boer.

He pointed out that developing economies, due to an absence of formal modes of transport, often develop informal transport methods to meet people's needs. These informal modes of transport often provide a large number of jobs.

In South Africa, for instance, about 150 000 direct jobs and another 150 000 indirect jobs are created around informal modes of transport services, said De Boer.

"The heart of a transport policy, therefore, should be to solve the challenge of how to get people access to transport - especially in developing economies," said De Boer.

"Transport is not just getting from point A to point B, but also about how to invigorate society."

In his view, finance is the biggest challenge developing countries have in solving transport issues.

"It should, therefore, be about how to bring in technology to solve financial constraints and how to find innovative and creative finance solutions. It is also about connecting people to have access to markets and the logistics around this," he explained.

Timothy Papandreou, chief innovation officer of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, added to the debate by saying that for San Francisco it has become about not saying no to new innovative ideas - for instance relating to the shared economy - and rather saying "maybe" or "tell us more" when approached.

He emphasised that the use of data to establish the reality of transport needs and situations rather than going on mere anecdotal statements is very important.

"Why should a municipality waste its precious budget on transport that is not working or not used?" he asked.

"The public has spoken in the shared economy and they want a more collective transport system. There is no one size fits all for cities. One must be clear about what the wants are and how to fit solutions into it."

* Fin24 is a guest of the International Transport Forum at its summig in Leipzig.

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