Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China
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Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China

Edited by Chia-Lin Chen, Haixiao Pan, Qing Shen and James J. Wang

Since 1978, when China embarked on a new period of economic reforms and introduced open door policies, it has experienced a great urban transformation. The role of transport has proved indispensable in this unprecedented rapid urbanisation and economic growth. As the first research-focused book dedicated to this important topic, the Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China offers new insight into the various opportunities and challenges brought by fast-paced motorization and urban development, and explores them in broad spatial-economic, environmental, social, and institutional dimensions.
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Chapter 25: Conclusion: informing transportation planning and policymaking for a better urban future

Qing Shen


In the Chinese language transportation, together with clothing, food, and housing, are basic human needs expressed concisely as “Yi Shi Zhu Xing” (____). The increasing geographic scale and structural complexity of contemporary economic and social activities require fast, safe, reliable, comfortable, and cost-effective transportation. Therefore, transportation development usually goes hand-in-hand with economic development, urban growth, and quality of life improvement. Since 1978, when the Chinese government under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping launched the market-oriented economic reform, China’s transportation infrastructure and service has been developing at an astonishing pace. The achievements over the last four decades have been truly remarkable, as manifested by a modernized national transportation system that includes many new, world-class subsystems. Those of us who have witnessed this whole period of dramatic changes must remember how under-developed the transportation system was. Here are some telling facts: coal-burning steam engines were yet to be fully replaced by internal combustion engines for passenger trains, which travelled at an average speed of below 50 kilometres per hour and were often extremely crowded; civil aviation served only a small number of major cities, and the service was exclusively for the elites – high-rank governmental officials and high-level professionals; the expressway did not exist; a bicycle was a luxury household possession, whereas the private automobile was a foreign concept.

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