6 June, 2012, Kuala Lumpur - Promoting sustainable transport systems has been a major challenge for local governments in many cities in Asia and the Pacific region due to various reasons, including: lack of political will and vision, as well as coordination of a wide range of interest groups and sufficient technical and personal capacity to design and implement policies. Often, transport issues are tackled as one single sector and not as a part of an integrated urban planning approach. To engage with these issues, CIFAL Kuala Lumpur convened a workshop on financing sustainable urban transportation in the Asia-Pacific region from 22 to 24 May 2012. The workshop was co-sponsored by Veolia Environnement and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Part of UNITAR's global network of nine CIFAL training centres for local development, CIFAL Kuala Lumpur annually hosts the Sustainable Transportation Systems Training Course under the framework of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Training Centre (KLRTC) or CIFAL Kuala Lumpur. The training provides excellent examples how local governments have effectively developed and promoted public transport operations and management in Asia, and in other developed country contexts as well. It also emphasises how integration into a broader framework of city planning (e.g. a Master Plan) is essential in order for a sustainable system to operate. Participants hailed from Kuala Lumpur, surrounding municipalities and transportation planners from the Asia-Pacific region. The workshop was a productive exercise with excellent contributions from both the locals as well as foreign participants. Companies such as Mitsubishi and Toyota also participated to present their activities in transportation. Participants were given the opportunity to test drive Mitsubishi’s Electric Vehicle (EV) at the institute’s parking lot. They also participated in a site visit to Kuala Lumpur’s new bus terminal, a simple and effective experience sharing method which could be used in developed countries alike.
Through keynote seminars on urban transportation, sessions examining challenges in planning and financing Asian urban transport, and group exercises, participants identified: congestion in the city centre; non-motorised and light motorised two-wheelers causing congestion; lack of an integrated public transport facility; lack of a quality public transport system; insufficient funds and expertise to make new plans; and low levels of awareness at all levels as common challenges faced in their locality and region. They worked on action plans and recommendations to tackle these issues. Participants learned by reviewing regional good practices, and comparing regional municipal experiences in policy development for urban transport projects. The workshop served as a platform for local governments to network and develop city-to-city cooperation, while partnering with the private sector towards implementing lessons learned through action plans. Some recommendations to tackle financing of urban transportation that emerged from the discussions were creating a system to raise parking fees; making less parking spaces in the city core and better integrating all modes of public transport; constructing integrated terminals to coordinate Bus Rapid Transits (BRTs), Mass Rapid Transits (MRTs), and taxis; providing specific training opportunities for people directly in charge of the particular systems; weighing the benefits and drawbacks of public-private partnerships; and implementation of education starting from schools and through to public officials.
Using CITYSHARE methodology developed by UNITAR, CIFAL Kuala Lumpur delivered a productive and successful workshop which enhanced knowledge transfer and optimised peer learning between local officials and other local as well as international stakeholders who play crucial roles in sustainable urban transportation in the Asia-Pacific region.