What China’s Urbanization Plan Means for Urban Transport Systems

In the latest National New-Type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020), the Chinese government plans to accelerate urbanization through better urban planning, increased urban facilities, accelerated construction of social housing and improved public services. The plan calls for the increase of China’s permanent urban population from 53.7% to 60% in 2020 (read more), and easing urban “hukou” controls to increase the amount of urban residents with Hukou from 35.3% in 2012 to 45% of the population by 2020 (read more). In addition to boosting the population and social well-being of urban residence, the plan also pushes to reduce air pollution in Chinese cities. Under the plan, 60% of cities will meet national air quality targets in 2020 from 40% in 2013, which will require amongst others reduced emissions from the transport sector.

The CESG staff has gone through the Urbanization Plan and identified the areas where transport will play a role in facilitating China’s ambitious urbanization goals.

A Summary Table with Targets

Urbanization index



Urbanization rate of permanent residence



Urbanization rate of registered (hukou) residence



Motorized mode share of urban public transport in cities with 1 million or more population



Percentage of prefecture-level cities with air quality level reaching national standards



To reduce GHG emission and improve air quality, the government will strictly implement the fuel consumption management system for vehicles with all 15.2 million Yellow-label (highly polluting vehicles) to be entirely eliminated by 2020. The government will continue to control vehicle ownership by effectively regulating and controlling the motorized transport demand of individuals.

The government will also work to accelerate the promotion and allocation of new energy vehicles. New energy vehicles will be facilitated through an increased construction of infrastructure including charging stations, charging piles, refueling stations, and other needed facilities

Public transport

Most of the information on transport within the Urbanization Plan addresses public transport and ways to improve service.

a) Mode share and integrated public transport systems

  • Increase the percentage of motorized public transport mode share in cities with 1,000,000 or more population from 45% in 2012 to 60% by 2020
  • Accelerate the proliferation of “One-Card” service platform for urban public transport
  • Enhance information sharing and resource integration of urban road traffic management systems

b) Bus, BRT, and surface modes

  • Actively develop BRT, modern trams and other mass surface public transportation systems in cities
  • Optimize public transport stations and routes arrangement
  • Promote and form a public transport priority network
  • Increasingly apply hybrid, electric, natural gas, and other new energy and clean fuel vehicles in the public transport industry

c) Public transport quality and performances

  • Improve public transport coverage area, punctuality and running speed
  • Achieve stations coverage area of 500 meters in central urban areas with more than1 million residence

Non-motorized Transport

  • Promote green travel and improve traveling conditions for walking and cycling
  • Construct non-motorized transport facilities for walking and cycling

Regional Transport Connections

The Chinese government came up with ambitious goals to accelerate regional transport integration, expand metropolitan areas, and improve the external traffic of medium and small sized cities:

a) Regional rail development goals by 2020;

  • Conventional railway network will cover cities with 200,000 or more population
  • High speed railway network will cover cities with 500,000 or more population
  • Continue to build multi-modal hubs with railway, road passenger stations and airports

b) Regional road development goals

  • Strengthen connections between medium sized cities, small cities or small towns and transportation corridors or hub cities
  • General national roads will cover all counties in China
  • Expressways will link cities with over 200,000 residents

In related news, the Ministry of Transport announced the completion of its organization reform where it absorbed the National Railway Bureau, the National Civil Aviation Administration, and the Nation Post Bureau. This consolidation will allow “better coordination between different transport departments, with strengthened traffic management, better traffic safety procedures and increased transport capacity” (read more). The Bureau will be in charge of all long-distance transport in China and plans to reallocate infrastructure resources to “boost non-road transport networks and make those long journeys much smoother” (read more). This reorganization will play a large role in meeting the regional transport goals set under the new Urbanization Plan.

For the full PDF of the Urbanization Plan in Chinese
Click Here
For a summary of the major points in english
Click Here
For all of the transport related Items in Chinese with direct translations go to the
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