Lanzhou, China, a city of three million, a major transportation hub, and the capital of Gansu Province in Northwest China, is one of the four finalists for the 2014 Sustainable Transport Award. In 2013, Lanzhou implemented the second-highest capacity bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Asia, integrated Transit-oriented Development projects along the corridor, and is pending implementation of an integrated bike sharing system.
The Lanzhou BRT, the first BRT project funded by the Asian Development Bank, runs through the heart of Lanzhou’s Anning district, extending two kilometers past the city’s administrative boarders to the transportation hub at Xi Zhan. The 9 kilometer corridor has 15 weather protected stations, 7 routes, and uses a new split-station concept. This allows buses traveling in the same direction to stop on both sides of a boarding platform. However, the corridor uses other station types, based on the corridor conditions, BRT route configuration, and passenger demand. Stations include single central platforms, split platforms with right-side boarding, split platforms with both sides boarding, and combinations of these approaches.
The Lanzhou BRT includes elements of transit-oriented development (TOD) and public-private partnership financing in the form of six underground shopping malls underneath the BRT corridor, constructed as part of the BRT project. These shopping malls were implemented by the government in the form of the Lanzhou ADB loan Project Management Office, with one sold to a private company and the other five rented to tenants. The Fifth Avenue mall is 496m long with a 16,000 square meter operational area that includes shopping areas, public space, and pedestrian passageways.
Modal integration is a feature of the project as well, with double-tier bike-parking racks provided at the major BRT stations, a bike-sharing system and greenways planned, and bike lanes along the BRT corridor. The first phase, which will include 500 stations with 12,000 bikes and 14,000 docks spread through the Chengguan district (the city center), Qilihe district, and Anning district (the BRT corridor). A subsequent phase, slated for 2015, will expand the program to 900 stations, 20,000 bikes, and 24,000 docks, covering Xigu district and improving city center coverage, and a final stage will bring the system to the suburban areas of Lanzhou.
Ongoing BRT impact analysis surveys find that 73 percent of respondents along the corridor are either satisfied or very satisfied with public transport, an increase of 24 percent from before the BRT system’s introduction. The percentage of respondents reporting dissatisfaction has fallen from 10 to 2 over the same time period. Other results indicate a significant increase in civic pride; a decrease in wait times and travel costs, improved perceptions of safety for passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and major improvements in perceptions of environmental quality and livability. This impressive reception, along with the wide array of innovations on display, make it easy to understand why other cities are already starting to emulate Lanzhou’s BRT.
Since 2005, the STA has been given annually to a city that has implemented innovative and sustainable transportation projects in the past year. These strategies must improve mobility for all residents, reduce transportation greenhouse and air pollution emissions, as well as improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians.
The 2014 finalists will be honored at a reception at the Washington Hilton International Ballroom on January 14, 2014, during the Transport Research Board annual conference in Washington, DC. If you would like to attend the STA ceremony, click here to RSVP.
Past winners of the Sustainable Transport Award include: Mexico City, Mexico (2013); Medellin, Colombia and San Francisco, United States (2012); Guangzhou, China (2011); Ahmedabad, India (2010); New York City, USA (2009); London, UK (2008); Paris, France (2008); Guayaquil, Ecuador (2007); Seoul, South Korea (2006), and Bogotá, Colombia (2005).