Working with the Ministry of Transport and local agencies, WRI China helped promote bus and metro use, walking and biking in Chinese cities and contributed to the 13th Five-Year National Transit Metropolis Work Plan. Based on progress in 37 pilot cities, the Ministry expanded its National Transit Metropolis Program to 87 cities, which could benefit 490 million people.

The Challenge

As Chinese cities race to manage rapid urbanization, they must contend with sprawl, traffic congestion, air pollution and growing greenhouse gas emissions not only from coal-fired power generation but also from a growing number of passenger cars, among other sources. This costs time – commuters in 15 large Chinese cities spend about 50 percent more time getting to work than their European counterparts – and money: health problems and lost productivity due to air pollution may be valued as high as 6.5 percent of GDP. More sustainable urban growth will require a focus on people and sustainable transit rather than cars.

WRI's Role

Working with the Ministry of Transport’s National Transit Metropolis Program, which promotes transit-oriented city development, WRI China contributed to the 13th Five-Year National Transit Metropolis Work Plan. WRI also worked with the China Academy of Transport Science to encourage bus and metro use, walking and biking. Collaborating with local partners, WRI China worked to improve transit services and the walking environment in key pilot cities. In Suzhou, WRI used transit smartcards and bus GPS data to analyze travel patterns and inform the reorganization and integration of bus routes with the subway network. In Kunming, WRI contributed to the Kunming Street Design Manual, which sets the technical standard for renovating city streets. In Zhuzhou, WRI helped introduce the city’s first bus rapid transit system, pioneering a public-private partnership – among the first of its kind in China – and helped optimize the design of the world’s first Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, a computer-guided rail-less vehicle that operates in segregated bus lanes.

The Outcome

Based on the strength of progress in 37 pilot cities, China’s Ministry of Transport expanded the National Transit Metropolis Program in 2017 to 87 cities, potentially benefitting some 490 million citizens through improved transit, increased traffic safety and reduced congestion, commuting time and air pollution. The program aims to eventually reach all 600 of China’s cities.