Chinese City Clusters: Current Urban Transport Technology and Large Labor Markets with Alain Bertaud

Urban productivity and creativity increases with the size of labor markets. However, the number of workers in an urban area indicate only the potential size of the labor market. Effective labor markets are defined by workers ability to reach any job in an urban area in less than one hour commute. Beyond this commuting time productivity decreases.

China's National Development and Reform Commission’ s National Plan on New Urbanization (2014-2020) has identified 11 existing urban clusters where investments in infrastructure will be concentrated. The size of the 5 larger clusters range from 60 to 110 million people. The current mode split between city buses, BRT, subway and suburban rail, individual cars and freight trucks will be unable to integrate such large labor markets. Is there a possibility that new transport technology could serve such large labor markets? Or does the maximum labor market size has already be reached in metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Mexico city?

Alain Bertaud is a senior research scholar at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project. His main area of research is the impact of markets, transportation, and regulations on urban form. Bertaud previously held the position of principal urban planner at the World Bank, where he worked on urban policy and urban infrastructure development mainly in South Asia, in transition economies such as China, Russia, and countries of Eastern Europe. Previously, he worked as a resident urban planner in a number of cities around the world: Bangkok, San Salvador (El Salvador), Port au Prince (Haiti), Sana’a (Yemen), New York, Paris, Tlemcen (Algeria), and Chandigarh (India).