Shaping Up Sustainable Urban Transport Authorities in China
Rapid urbanization in Chinese cities has posed mounting challenges for municipal transport authorities to deliver necessary services and devise sustainable transport strategies. As urban transport responsibilities are commonly scattered among a handful of municipal institutions, government fragmentation has produced misaligned goals, conflicting policies, and inefficient resource allocation.
This working paper aims to a) provide a deepened understanding of how existing urban transport institutions fail to facilitate the development and implementation of sustainable transport policies, and b) generate a set of practical recommendations on institutional reform of municipal transport authorities to address these shortcomings.
Building on international experiences and the specific context of Chinese cities, this working paper provides the following recommendations for Chinese cities to streamline urban transport institutional arrangements:
- Strategic goals: the responsibilities of new urban transport institutions need to align with the strategic goal of cities’ urban transport development.
- Organizational structure: although institutional reform does not necessarily lead to a single unified institution incorporating the management of multiple modes and functions, inter-departmental coordination or cross-departmental integration is necessary to comprehensively address urban transport challenges.
- Financial empowerment: the reformed urban transport institution should have financial muscles to carry out new responsibilities.
- Accountability: accountability mechanisms and procedures should be in place to hold both the decision-making and implementation branches accountable.
- Staffing: capacity building and performance incentives are necessary to attract and retain talent.