Mode biases of urban transportation policies in China and their implications

Rongfang Liu, Chang Qian Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Urban transportation in China has experienced several major eras. The automobile is going to soon invade every corner of urban China with increasing taxi services and private automobile ownership at explosive rates. However, is massive private automobile ownership the right direction for the future of China's urban transportation? Does the infrastructure in Chinese cities have the capacity to handle such an explosive growth of automobiles? What is the impact of increasing private automobile ownership on the metropolitan life? In search for answers to the above questions, the writers have combined both retrospective and perspective analyses of urban transportation system and related policies. The retrospective examination of urban transportation development helps to understand why some policy makers in Beijing, Shanghai, and other large cities encourage or gear their infrastructure system toward private automobiles. However, a perspective analysis reveals that the private automobile may not be suitable as the predominant mode of urban transportation in China. Despite all the comfort and convenience the automobile provides, it will not serve the best interest of the commuting public in major metropolitan areas of China in terms of land use and affordability. The high density of the population, concentration of employment in specific areas, and clusters of residential locations, especially in those large metropolitan areas, will support mass transit services. The authorities should aggressively promote multimodal transportation systems that are anchored by transit services such as bus and rail, supplemented by paratransit such as jitneys and taxis. Private automobiles should be restricted to a small portion of urban commuting traffic. Journal of Urban Planning and Development

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Urban Planning and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


  • China
  • Infrastructure
  • Transportation planning
  • Urban transportation
  • Vehicles


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