Review of developments in transport in Asia and the Pacific 2021: towards sustainable, inclusive and resilient urban passenger transport in Asian cities

The ways in which human mobilities are viewed have undergone profound changes. Many government measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic were designed to discourage and even stop people from travelling. This led to unprecedented falls in passenger levels, particularly for aviation, long distance rail travel, and public transport, while more people started walking, cycling, and driving. The pandemic also accelerated the shift towards online shopping, schooling, and work, further dampening travel demand. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region has also witnessed an extraordinary rise in climate-related disasters, ranging from severe flooding, wildfires and haze, intense rainfall and landslides, and typhoons. It is now widely accepted that climate change is driven by greenhouse gas emissions, and that urban transport is a major contributor. The question of how to make urban passenger transport more sustainable has therefore moved centre stage on the climate change agenda. The Review argues that to achieve more sustainable urban transport systems, policymakers should ensure that transport policies and plans are based on environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness, and resilience, and then elaborates measures to achieve this. The Review offers selected policy recommendations to make urban transport more environmentally sustainable; design inclusive urban transport systems which meet everyone’s needs; integrate resilience into urban and transport planning; harness the power of new technologies to make transport more sustainable; build the capacities of local governments and transport operators; direct more financing to sustainable transport modes; strengthen monitoring and research capacities in the region; and utilize regional fora and cooperative mechanisms.