"In traffic jams, all cars are equal - equally slow"

Cities are continuously growing: nowadays, already more than half of our population is living in urban areas. This number will increase even further to two-thirds by 2050 resulting in growing traffic demand. Until now, too many cities are solely relying on individual motorized traffic and are threatened to collapse under the traffic load. A transformation towards more environment friendly public transport is needed to ensure that cities will become and remain livable places.   

Already today, traffic chaos in many cities hinders development. In Cairo, annually traffic jams cost four per cent of Egypt’s total economic output. Furthermore, the costs of transportation devour a large part of the income of poor people, in some cases up to 70 percent of people’s income is spent on transportation.


“In traffic jams, all cars are equal - equally slow.” (German proverb)

The average travel speed drops during congestion. Spending many hours in traffic before and after work is not a rarity in many cities. In São Paolo, Brazil researchers calculated that on peak days the traffic jams add up to over 300 kilometers - a total traffic jam longer than the distance between Hamburg and Berlin.

In many places traffic gridlocks affect the quality of urban life and therefore a global transformation towards sustainable transport is needed.

“Public transport creates more mobility for more people, and is more sustainable and healthier.” 

The Federal German Government has launched an initiative for sustainable transport - called the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI). TUMI is a broad initiative that supports cities to build new transport systems and modernize current systems into more efficient and more sustainable systems.

TUMI is funded by the KfW with investments of EUR 1 billion annually. The sponsored programs range from bicycle paths to modern subways; in short everything that contributes to sustainable urban transport, for example new systems that improve and control current traffic flows.

In order to cope with the increasing mobility, cities need sustainable and integrated transport concepts. This goal is pursued by KfW together with partner countries around the world. This also includes the synchronization between various transport modes and the integration of tariffs. This is an important task for the public sector - and therefore also for development cooperation, where also the private sector has opportunities to involve.

Public transport provides transport services to those who cannot afford a private vehicle and therefore has a social function, in addition to the climate benefits it brings along. Nowadays, motorized road transport produces just under a third of all energy-related CO2 emissions.

Sometimes unconventional solutions are needed, i.e. in Medellín, where a cableway is used as transport mode because it is particularly suitable for the tightly-built quarters.

With five billion Euros, the KfW wants to support cities to improve their traffic situation and stimulate their economy. TUMI uses these investments worldwide for different transport concepts, as long as these transport concepts strive to create sustainable and livable cities.


This is an extract from a new photo report by KfW. The original website is published in German.

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