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Image of a public bus in Singapore

ESCAP Photo/Madan Regmi

As cities in Asia and the Pacific continue to expand, the demand for transport services to accommodate commuters is increasingly challenging. Integration of public transport systems has emerged as a solution to help navigate the complexities of urban mobility.  

The main goal of public transport integration is to make it convenient for commuters to move from one mode of transport to another, and ultimately, to promote a shift from private vehicles to public transit. Various emerging trends offer insights into how governments can further promote the integration of public transport systems.


Urban development and transport planning

Strategic transport planning that considers urban land use in the design of transport networks is essential for sustainable urban environments. Particularly, transit-oriented development (TOD) is a way of designing urban areas to be centered around public transport corridors. In addition, by capturing the increased land-value resulting from public transit infrastructure developments, cities can invest further in public transit, foster interconnected infrastructure and promote fairness.

For example, Singapore's commitment to efficient, convenient, well-connected and fast public transport network is evident in its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 and innovative approach on rapid transit planning which allocates corridors for longer length trips and has bus services integrated alongside these corridors to maximize accessibility.

Effective transportation operations and leveraging interchanges

Operation strategy planning in transport helps to develop systems that ensure the most efficient and effective movement. Achieving this requires dynamically allocating resources to adapt to constantly evolving demands.

In the operations of transport systems, interchanges or terminals serve as crucial connectors that facilitate transfers between transit modes. By promoting development around these hubs, cities can maximize benefits and further ensure efficiency and urban sustainability. KL Central Interchange in Kuala Lumpur is an example of how an interchange can support the integration of various transport modes and facilitate easy transfer among different modes, whilst also providing a public space and services for commuters.

Photo Credit: ESCAP Photo

Revolutionising public transport with the intelligent transit management system

The use of intelligent transit management system (ITMS) also offers a transformative solution that can help to deliver integrated public transport systems. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies and data-driven insights, ITMS empowers transit authorities to optimize resource allocation, enhance service efficiency and improve passenger experience.

Public transport fare pricing for balancing cost and affordability

Fare integration, through unifying ticketing and payment methods across transport modes, helps to enhance passengers’ convenience by enabling them to use a single ticket or card for various modes. This approach simplifies travel for commuters, encourages multi-modal trips, and enhances the overall passenger experience. At the same time, fare integration involves careful planning and coordination between transit agencies, operators and other stakeholders to ensure smooth implementation and optimal revenue management. 

Gender in transport

Transport has a significant role in enhancing gender equality and increasing women’s productivity. Transport has been traditionally and is still a male-dominated sector from a user’s point of view as well as from an employment perspective across cities in Asia and the Pacific.  

Women typically have different travel patterns than men due to gender differences in socio-economic roles. For example, studies shows that women often conduct multiple short trips in a day to meet work and household responsibility requirements. Therefore, well-integrated public transport systems that enable passengers to conduct multiple trips with seamless transfers can help encourage women to use public transport and make existing journeys more efficient and convenient.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/1000 Words

Customizing institutional structures for integrated urban land use and transport solutions

Institutional structures play a crucial role in the implementation of integrated land use and transport solutions. Often, urban transport functions are performed by multiple agencies, which results in overlapping responsibilities and an inefficient use of resources. By bringing together various transport agencies, stakeholders and governing bodies, institutional integration can lead to improved coordination, streamlined decision-making and enhanced overall service quality.

An appropriate institutional framework is necessary for providing effective transport solutions. Some case examples for institutional structures are the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority in India, which acts as a regulator and coordinator of urban transport in the city along with existing institutions, and the Land Transport Authority, Singapore is a single authority responsible for integrated land use planning and transport development.

Guidebook on integrated public transport systems

These suggestions are further expanded in ESCAP publications, Integrated Public Transport Systems: A Guidebook for Policymakers and Integrated Public Transport Systems: A Compendium of Good Practices from Asia and the Pacific. The Guidebook and Compendium provide possible policy actions and good practices from the region and are part of ESCAP’s ongoing efforts to build capacity of cities and countries in the region to enhance overall sustainability, accessibility and integration of urban public transport systems.

A Regional Meeting on Integration of Urban Public Transport Systems and Application of Digital Technologies will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 29 and 30 May 2024. The regional meeting, planned in collaboration with the Almaty City Administration and Almaty Development Center, aims to share experiences of pilot cities and countries on the planning, development and operation of integrated urban public transport systems and use of digital technologies.

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Madan B. Regmi
Economic Affairs Officer
Shivanand Swamy
Professor, CEPT University
Surya Sugathan
Researcher, CEPT University
Boonyanin Pakvisal
Intern, Transport Division, ESCAP
Transport +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
Urban Transport