By Daniel Moser

Singapore’s got a vision for the city’s land and transport system, and it’s one that every city can learn from. In its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 (LTMP 2040), the Land Transport Authority charts out a long-term goal for an integrated approach to transport planning. The LTMP 2040 aims for a convenient, fast, and well-connected transport network that can get residents around the city in 45 minutes or less; an inclusive transport ecosystem; and a healthier, cleaner, greener transport environment.

The “Lion City” has a reputation as one of the most meticulously planned cities in the world. One way they’ve been able to achieve and plan for such a cohesive infrastructure is by using the Avoid-Shift-Improve (ASI) framework, a strategy that combines urban transport planning with land-use planning for the long run.

The ASI framework aims to achieve GHG emission reductions, reduced energy consumption, less congestion, and generally more liveable cities. The first step, “avoid,” refers to improving the efficiency of the transport system and reducing the need to travel. In Singapore, homes and businesses are being built in higher densities close to metro stations, so it’ll take no more than 20 minutes for residents to travel from home to neighborhood centers.

The second step, “shift,” calls for a shift away from the most energy consuming modes of transport, like cars, and towards more environmentally friendly modes, like walking, cycling, or public transport. For its part, Singapore has plans to develop a 1,000 km island-wide cycle track network by 2040, including plenty of places to park your bike. Singapore’s public transport system is also excellent, and the city makes it easy to transfer between its 203 km of metro rail and its nearly 5,000 buses via its efficient fare card system.

Finally, the third step, “improve,” refers to efforts to improve vehicle and fuel efficiency, as well as to optimize public transport infrastructure. Singapore already plans to extend its metro rail network with newer and safer technology, as well as add more green buses to its existing fleet over the next decade, making it that much easier to choose public transportation over a passenger vehicle. But Singapore takes it a step further and actually discourages car ownership. The city places harsh restraints on both ownership and use of personal vehicles. Anyone who wants to buy a car needs to get a Certificate of Entitlement through an auction process, which often tacks on expenses equal to the price of a car. Furthermore, drivers have to pay road users charges that vary depending on the time of day.

Singapore is a perfect example of a city that has effectively combined transport and land-use plans with excellent public transport and disincentives in order to make the ASI framework function. As a result, Singapore has much cleaner air quality than many other Asian cities, as well as stronger economic development and increased quality of life.

Around the world, land-use and transport planning operate in different government spheres, and the two don’t always collaborate as well as they should. If cities want to achieve sustainable development, they need to integrate these two facets of city life into a single vision.

Want to learn more about the Avoid-Shift-Improve framework, as well as other components of a sustainable urban mobility strategy? Sign up today for our free online course: “Transforming Urban Mobility: Introduction to Transport Planning for Sustainable Cities.

Presented by University College London, GIZ, and the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative.