World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a loan of US$100 million to China to help provide better public transport services for more than 460,000 residents in Xiangyang Municipality in Hubei Province.
In recent years, with accelerating urban growth, inland cities in western China have started facing many of the challenges that coastal cities had experienced earlier. The most notable challenge is a rapid rise in motorization rates leading to increased congestion, deteriorated performance of public transport service, degraded air quality, and rising traffic accidents and fatalities. Experience shows that development of road infrastructure alone is not sufficient to achieve sustainable, equitable, and efficient transport. It is also crucial to substantially improve public transport and develop the capacity for comprehensive urban transport planning and management in parallel.
Xiangyang is a typical mid-sized inland city entering a key phase in its development. The Hubei Xiangyang Urban Transport Project has been specifically designed to help the city tackle these challenges and provide its residents with transport services in an integrated, efficient and safe manner.
The project, to be implemented mainly in the Xiangcheng District of Xiangyang, will focus on improving public transport system, through provision of traffic management, safety, and bus priority facilities, bus bays, depots and terminals, and high capacity buses. Technical assistance will be provided for detailed design and implementation of an integrated corridor management approach. The project will also finance construction of some roads or sections of roads to meet growing traffic demand. In addition, the project will support development of traffic management and safety facilities and an area traffic control system, which, combined with a road user education program, will contribute to fewer road accidents and heightened safety for pedestrians. More than 460, 000 people are expected to benefit directly from the project upon its completion by 2016.
"A key focus will be on demonstration of the integrated improvements in public transport services, traffic safety conditions, particularly for pedestrians, and traffic management on selected transport corridors in the project area," said Fang Ke, World Bank’s Senior Urban Transport Specialist and project task manager. "Improving the quality of public transport and traffic safety will help promote 'people-centered' development."
The project is estimated to cost US$210.87 million, to be financed by the World Bank loan and counterpart funding from the local government.