Projects Archive

2014 VREF Workshop “Transforming Mobility, Access and Delivery in Cities”

The VREF Workshop was co-sponsored by the Ford FoundationTransitCenter, the American Assembly, the Regional Plan Association, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and organized by CSUD. This event aimed to bring together key local, national and international leaders, advocates, and policymakers to connect with renowned researchers to dynamically share views, experiences, and cutting edge knowledge on approaches to urban transport in the 21st century. A specific question to be considered is how can we set up knowledge-based pilot projects and productive partnerships with local government, NGOs and CBOs, institutions, and urban professionals? How can research be linked to real-world processes and well-designed outcomes to support the transformation of urban transport? This workshop built on the substantial work of the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) and its partners working through its Future Urban Transport (FUT) program guided by its overarching vision of promoting fair access and sustainable transport in cities.

View footage from Transforming Mobility, Access and Delivery in Cities


People talking at VREF conference

2010 VREF Centre of Excellence Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya

CSUD hosted the 2010 Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) Centre of Excellence Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya from 14-16 December 2010. The workshop provided CSUD, its local partners and local stakeholders an important opportunity to contextualize the pressing land-use and transportation challenges Nairobi faces as well as articulate approaches to addressing them to VREF, representatives from Centres of Excellence (CoEs) from around the world, and other key participants, including the local media. The importance of the issues the workshop set forth, as well as the meeting itself, was underscored by Philip Sika, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development, who officially opened the meeting. The workshop fostered high quality discussion, debate, and networking on how to move the Nairobi region, as well as other urban areas, closer to sustainable transport and land use and hence improved public health and quality of life.


Cyclist in Ruiru

Local Physical Development Plan for Ruiru, Kenya

CSUD and its partners at the University of Nairobi, Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) worked with the Ruiru Municipal Council as well as the members of the Ruiru community in order to understand and better plan for the impacts of rapid urbanization that are occurring in the municipality. Through joint international and interdisciplinary academic studios and community meetings and workshops that enabled a participatory planning process, CSUD and its partners worked directly with the Ruiru municipality using a multi-sector planning approach to create the Ruiru Local Physical Development Plan: 2005-2020. The development plan considered both the Nairobi Metropolitan Area as well as the Ruiru Municipality. Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to assist Ruiru in developing a municipal plan that highlighted Ruiru’s own municipal identity, while at the same time, positioning Ruiru to partner with Nairobi and other municipalities in order to promote a metropolitan plan, encompassing the needs of the entire Nairobi region. Consultation with stakeholders, academic research done by University of Nairobi and Columbia University, and continuous community participation in the process was the foundation of this Ruiru Local Physical Development Plan: 2005-2020. The process and resulting plan are ultimately important steps towards using the multi-sector planning process for the Nairobi Metropolitan Area. Fostering policy changes that facilitate the creation of comprehensive planning strategies is critical to the wider goal of developing a comprehensive transportation system for the entire Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

Analysis of Transport Modal Choice Patterns of Nairobi Residents: Implications for Metropolitan Planning

An important component of CSUD’s work in metropolitan planning capacity building is the creation of a metropolitan land use/transportation model. As of now, Nairobi lacks an integrated land use and transportation plan, a key factor contributing to the transit system’s dilapidated state. Transport-related decisions should take into consideration past and present land use trends and patterns. To begin this process, CSUD believes it is important to understand and to model the dynamics of the current transport situation in Nairobi, including both private vehicles and public transit. A better understanding of the current transport system and land use patterns will allow for recommendations that support a transport system that reflects the generic foundations of a sustainable public transport system as well as the more specific needs of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

In 2006, CSUD, the Kenya Institute for Public Policy and Analysis (KIPPRA) and the VREF CoE at UC Berkeley established a partnership to investigate and address the current transport system in Nairobi. Work began with compiling necessary data and information for a detailed traffic model for Nairobi. With this traffic model, we are better able to understand current on-the-ground traffic behavior and characteristics, which can allow for the assessment of three different kinds of short-term strategies aimed at improving the transportation system in Nairobi. These are:

•    Strategies that improve the vehicle-carrying capacity of the existing road and street system;
•    Strategies that improve the passenger-carrying capacity of the existing system;
•    Strategies that focus on demand management opportunities for the existing system

Understanding the current issues surrounding traffic and congestion in Nairobi is an integral first step to the subsequent creation of a Nairobi metropolitan transit system. The transport model will provide an analytical and descriptive narrative of the relationship between travel patterns and land use in Nairobi, based primarily on Nairobi residents, neighborhood location and their choice of transport modes. The transport model will both supplement the traffic model and broaden the parameters of analysis, empowering Nairobi’s decision makers to better understand the greater implications of the current urbanization trend in Nairobi and how this trend impacts the transportation system. The traffic and transport models when taken together will help highlight transport policies and investments that will ultimately better align transport supply with demand.


Study of the Role of the Matatu Industry in the Future of Nairobi Transport

Matatus are privately operated buses of varying size and capacity. They are the primary mode of motorized public transportation in Kenya. As an informal paratransit industry in Kenya, matatus provide service to millions of people a day, comprising the backbone of the transportation system in Nairobi. While providing employment opportunities for Kenyans on various levels, the matatu industry is also seen by many as one of the biggest obstacles to the creation of a public transportation system. The “quick” solution by government officials has been to attempt to abolish the matatu altogether. This study provides an analysis of the matatu industry’s operations and discusses how its structure and networks pose both obstacles and opportunities for transport reform in Nairobi, Kenya. By facilitating a broader policy dialogue involving key stakeholders from both the wider transportation industry as well as the matatu industry specifically (the latter having historically been excluded from many such dialogues) in the reform process, this study shows that matatus can play an important role in the creation of a more comprehensive transit system that would service not only Nairobi, but its satellite cities as well.

Rockefeller Foundation/CSUD Global Urban Summit

The Global Urban Summit, held at the Rockefeller Foundation’s study and conference center in Bellagio, Italy, in July, 2007, convened leaders from the private and public sectors to explore opportunities to foster healthy and sustainable cities. The Rockefeller Foundation conceived of the summit as a way to address issues of public health, shelter, water, sanitation, planning and adaptation to climate change that, because of the accelerated growth of cities, require urgent attention. In the developing world, increasing numbers of migrants are moving between rural areas and crowded urban centers, as well as between cities. These cities, however, often lack the infrastructure or capacity to absorb more residents.

The summit illuminated and leveraged the work already under way to prepare cities, especially in the developing world, to effectively cope with the dramatic growth that has occurred because of globalization and the significant changes in local demographics.

In preparation for the summit, CSUD worked with the Rockefeller Foundation to identify leading research scholars involved in the subject areas of the summit to prepare expert background papers and summaries that helped to inform and frame the summit discussions for each of the four themed summit weeks: financing shelter, water and sanitation; building for climate change resilience; improving urban population health systems; and reorienting planning and design pedagogy and practice for the 21st century.

The Global Urban Summit papers are available for download in on our publications page.

Congestion Pricing Study

From December of 2007 through the spring of 2008, the Center for Sustainable Urban Development partnered with the Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community-based group in West Harlem, to conduct a study of the potential impacts of PlaNYC 2030’s proposed congestion pricing plan on the neighborhoods of Northern Manhattan. The resulting report, titled “Northern Manhattan and the Congestion Pricing Plan: A Comprehensive Look at the Citywide Plan from a Community Perspective,” provided original research and recommendations to address both the concerns of Northern Manhattan communities as well as the potential to access opportunities that could be derived by the plan.

The report addresses the principal concerns of Northern Manhattan residents, including whether congestion pricing could have the potential to bring increased park-and-ride activity to the area and concerns that congestion pricing could intensify crowding of the subway system. The study examines the likelihood of these and related outcomes as well as potential positive and negative impacts and externalities. Methodologies included detailed neighborhood-level analyses (including a survey of existing parking availability in the area and existing bus depots), GIS mapping, analysis of subway ridership data and a discussion of the potential impacts of proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) services. Harlem and Washington Heights are home to a disproportionate number of pollution sources, such as bus depots and sewage treatment plants, and asthma rates in those neighborhoods are the city’s highest. Therefore the study focused on environmental and health impacts as well as economic impacts. The report was widely distributed to policy makers and the public.

Read the congestion pricing report on our publications page.