The Urban Transport Development Project in Mongolia by the Asian Development Bank had been discussed since 2009. The project was finally backed by Parliament in April 2015. Among the efforts to solve traffic jams in Ulaanbaatar, and in spite of the relatively small number of vehicles compared to densely-populated metropolitan cities, building a subway system seemed like the most practical approach. However, it would require 30 years, while a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system would only require 7 years for complete construction.
The Bus rapid transit (BRT, BRTS, busway, transitway) is a bus-based public transport system designed to improve capacity and reliability relative to a conventional bus system.
According to the project schedule, the first BRT lane must be built by the end of 2017, pursuant to a detailed design completed in late 2016.
The Asian Development Bank is granting credit of USD 218 million for the package of urban transport projects, including the BRT. Last May, the first placement of the credit USD 60.0 million was allocated for the commencement of construction. The Government of Mongolia granted USD 10.0 million and the Global Environment Fund – USD 1.5 million.
Total cost of the project is USD 274 million, of which USD 57 million is to be provided by the Government of Mongolia.
In the margin of the BRT project, 64.5 km long bus lane will be built in Ulaanbaatar city.
According to ADB's project research, the smoke emitted from vehicles account for about a quarter of the air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, and more than half of the city's residents commute by bus. The number of registered vehicles in Ulaanbaatar rose six-fold between 2006 and 2015.
Each kilometer of BRT lane is estimated to cost around USD 1-5 million and the project is expected to reduce traffic's contribution to the city’s air pollution by 18 percent.
It is also expected that approximately 10-20 percent of residents who live near the transitways will give up driving and start using public transport.
The first transitways will be built connecting the airport with Peace Bridge and the III, IV micro-districts with Dragon Bus Terminal, taking into account the width of roads, said D.Otgonbaatar, head of the UB City Project and Cooperation Division.
“We expect 90 percent improvement in the public transport management of the city and 25-30 percent increase in revenues from bus tickets. Riders will enjoy an online inquiry system. The project is also calculated to reduce costs of unnecessary engine starts and stops caused by heavy traffic jams by 14 percent”, he added.
The Mongolian side will pay 1.0 percent interest for the first eight years of ADB’s 32-year loan and 1.5 percent interest for the next 24 years.
The article is featured in the Mongol Messenger's issue No. 6 for February 10.