Urban Transport Planning in Developing Cities: Eleven Factors for Failure

Urban Transport Planning in Developing Cities: Eleven Factors for Failure


M F Ortiz Carrascal, Steer Davies Gleave; J P Bocarejo Suescan, Universidad de los Andes, CO


Eleven reasons of failure were identified in urban transport planning in developing cities. We used a qualitative case study in Bogota as a methodology to analyze information.


1. Objective
Based on best practices, developing cities have adopted long-term master plans for transportation as a way to improve their poor situation, particularly in terms of mobility. However, it is often observed that those plans have not been adequately implemented. This paper reports on the factors that can contribute to the failure of a master plan for transportation in a city like Bogotá as well as proposing some possible solutions.

2. Data/Methodology
To identify factors for failure of long-term transportation plans, we analysed the Mobility Master Plan of Bogotá. We did this by reviewing supporting documentation and progress reports, by calculating management indicators and by conducting interviews with the most relevant stakeholders. We then used a qualitative methodology in order to extract the most relevant facts and also add our own perspective, all the while taking into account the complexities of the problem at hand.

3. Results/Findings
The first factor identified was the difference between the technical documents that support the Plan and the final legal document which was subsequently adopted. The second factor regards the need for an integrated strategy. A third factor relates to a weak association, engagement and discussions with key stakeholders throughout the whole planning period. The forth factor, one of the most critical, is the challenge caused when leadership in either government or Department of Transport changes. A fifth factor that contributes to the failure of the plan is the unrealistic time schedule and budget of some of its components. The lack of a competent and stable institution that will develop and monitor the plan over time is our sixth factor. Related to this, our seventh is the fact that the technical leadership of the plan is “outsourced”. The eighth factor relates to the absence of progress tracking and post appraisal reviews. The ninth factor relates to the data and tools used to build the plans. The tenth factor is linked the scale of the plan, we noticed it was often created just for a given district but the problems that must be solved are of a regional nature. Finally, securing adequate financial support for key projects is also a critical success factor for implementation of any plans .

4. Implications for Research/Policy
It is clear the importance of an urban transport plan to the future of any city. By taking note of the 11 factors highlighted in this report, it greatly increases the likelihood of successfully implementing any such plan. For each factor that can potentially lead to failure, we propose improvements to the design, implementation and subsequent review of any urban transport plan.

This case study focused on Bogotá but we consider that factors and recommendations apply to many developing cities.


Association for European Transport