In the United States, Europe and Japan the automobile market has been growing for several decades, leaving time for the development of public transport. In emerging countries it has exploded in several years: a considerable and continuous effort is necessary to contain the growth of traffic, limit the congestion and bottlenecks and offer alternative forms of mobility. Taking action at different levels:
Developing bus networks
Contrary to the subway or rail, buses do not need major infrastructure and they are often the option chosen by emerging countries to make a rapid improvement in the public transport sector. The possibilities are increasing with the arrival on the market of new generations, often cleaner and with greater capacity: Megabus Superliner, the largest bus in the world (up to 300 passengers), soon to go into operation in Beijing and Hangzhou; rapid charging electric buses soon to go into service in Seoul (Elec-City) or Shanghai (Sunwin); buses with metal-phosphate batteries «made in China», to be deployed in Uruguay and several other Chinese cities.
Example: Mexico City has invested 600 million euro in a bus rapid transit, the Metrobus Rapid Transit. Work started in 2005. Today Metrobus has 97 km of dedicated lanes. It currently transports over 180 million passengers annually and has reduced greenhouse gases by 150,000 metric tons.
Extending the offer
Subway, tramway, train, tram-train... The emerging countries are beginning to step up their investments in very ambitious transport systems, often with the support of the major providers of international funds. In Rio de Janeiro, during a sustainable development conference, these major providers (World Bank, European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank...) promised a global investment of 138 billion euro over the next ten years in sustainable transport for developing countries.
Example: The Thai government has recently announced the creation of five High-Speed Lines linking Bangkok to regional metropolitan areas. The initial investment will be 25 billion euro.
Back to biking
At the same time that public transport is becoming more effective, the bicycle is making a comeback in certain megacities in emerging countries. More often they have adopted a self-service rental scheme, like the Parisian Velib scheme, that was recently developed in Europe.
Example: In the framework of its Green Plan Mexico City has deployed, EcoBici, a bicycle sharing system with 85 stations, a fleet of 1,000 bicycles and 30,000 members.
Example: According to a study from Pike Research consultancy 47.6 million electric bicycles will be sold worldwide in 2018. This is an annual growth of 7.4 % since 2012. China will have 89 % of the global market.
Without the automobile
In the face of the growing number and extent of traffic jams, and parallel to the development of public transport, certain countries are seeking to curtail automobile traffic, in an ever more coercive manner: urban tolls, alternate traffic circulation, and a cap on registrations...
Example: The city of Beijing organizes a lottery every month to designate the citizens who can purchase a vehicle. In 2011, this random draw limited the number of new license plates to 173,000 compared with 790,000 in 2010. On the other hand, Beijing prohibits 20 % of the vehicles, according to their license plates, from driving between Mondays and Fridays.
Example: In Shanghai, license plates are put up for auction. In March 2012, the average offer for a plate was 9,380 dollars, up 5.4 % from February.
After a period of uncontrolled development, numerous megacities in the developing countries have adopted global strategies, associating all aspects of mobility: urban and transport planning, intermodality and multimodality, transportation demand management and modernization of public transport.
Example: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funds global strategy projects (transport planning, trip schema, sustainable development…) in 73 cities in emerging countries, representing a population of 244 million inhabitants.