Transportation experts at MIT have developed new insights into how decision makers in hundreds of Chinese cities design and adopt policies relating to transportation — policies that could together curtail the rapidly growing demand for personal vehicles in China. Based on a mathematical analysis of historical data plus text analysis of policy reports, the team concludes that Chinese cities that have experienced similar urban development and motorisation trends over time prioritise the same types of transportation policies to deal with their local conditions. Such a pattern is of interest to urban decision makers seeking role models for developing transportation policies. In addition to looking to Beijing and Shanghai — the trendsetters for innovative policymaking — decision makers can now learn by working with cities that face transportation challenges more similar to their own.
Chinese cities have experienced diverse urbanisation and motorisation trends that present distinct challenges for municipal transportation policymaking. However, there is no systematic understanding of the unique motorisation and urbanisation trends of Chinese cities and how physical characteristics map to their transportation policy priorities. The authors adopt a mixed-method approach to address this knowledge gap. They conduct a time-series clustering of 287 Chinese cities using eight indicators of urbanisation and motorisation from 2001 to 2014, identifying four distinct city clusters.
The research team compiled a policy matrix of 21 policy types from 44 representative cities and conduct a qualitative comparison of transportation policies across the four city clusters.