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Hong Kong 'top city for sustainable mobility' as UK cities fall down rankings

Lee Baker
30 October 2017
Hong Kong edges ahead after mode share, transport accessibility, affordability and other factors taken into account
Hong Kong edges ahead after mode share, transport accessibility, affordability and other factors taken into account


The top city in the well-reported Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index is this year seized by Hong Kong with a "well-organised, modern and efficiently-funded metro system enabling comprehensive mobility around a city".

Consultant Arcadis commissioned the Centre for Economic and Business Rearch to identity how 100 cities are performing against 23 individual indicators, each reflecting a component of urban mobility, from infrastructure spending commitment to affordability of public transport. Key inputs into the indicators include modal split – the share of trips in a city taken by public transport - and the density of bus and metro stops is a key indicator in the People sub-index. 

Hong Kong’s public transportation system sees approximately 12.6 million passenger journeys and less than one fifth of people own a car, however, the report also notes that pedestrianised areas are few in number and compared to European cities, commuting by bicycle is rare. 

In Europe, Zurich, Paris and Prague are the highest-placed of the 100 cities, with Zurich, at number two, with affordable transport and "boasting one of the highest public transport journeys per capita of any city". Two other Asian cities are in the top ten of the overall index: Seoul and Singapore rank fourth and eighth, respectively, with low usage of private vehicles boosting their rankings - in the former, more than half of total trips are made by public transport.

London this year fell from fifth place to seventh, Manchester from 25th to 35th and Birmingham 35th to 38th, with the capital losing out on the efficiency score because Londoners need to spend 5.9% of monthly earnings on a monthly pass compared to, for example, 1.5% in Taipei.

North American cities range from 23rd place for New York to 88th for Indianapolis, with "continuing reliance on private vehicles despite citizens of some American cities enjoying well-funded comprehensive transport systems". For the Global South, the report notes that "some Gulf cities have plans to accelerate their transport systems to technological superiority but lack strong fundamentals to sustainable urban mobility" while Australian cities "all have less travel by foot, bike and public transport than their peer cities". 

Other Asian cities such as Beijing (16th) "would score higher were it not for damaging levels of urban pollution and emissions". Sao Paolo is the highest Latin American city (47th), ranking highly on 'people-centric' policies including integrating digital technology in its transport network.

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