Mobility in Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is perhaps one of the fastest urbanizing cities. The capital city has increasing economic growth and rapid urbanization. It has seen unprecedented growth in motorization. Increasing traffic congestion, road accidents, fossil fuel dependency, air pollution and carbon emissions have resulted in significant economic, environmental and health cost.

Mobility is not just about developing transport infrastructure and services; it is about overcoming the social, economic, political and physical barriers to movement, such as class, gender relations, poverty, physical disabilities and affordability.

So there is a need for a paradigm shift from a vehicle centric to a people centric transportation system. The Valley is one of the fastest urbanizing cities in Asia. It has compact settlements that encouraged walking and the use of public open spaces. However, rapid and unplanned growth has led to urban sprawl with limited public space, deteriorating environment and chaotic traffic.

For the last two decades, population growth in the northern and southern areas outside the ring road showed high growth rate of over 8% per annum. About 0.7 million vehicles had been registered in Bagmati Zone till fiscal year 2012/13 and most of them ply on the streets of the valley.

The total trips in the valley were 3.5 million per day in 2011 and forecast to increase by nearly 1.6 times by 2022. Based on the recent trend, motorcycle and car ownership will increase continuously in the long run.

The public transport has 27.6% of travel mode share. Its service in the Valley is provided by several thousands of individual operators in over 100 routes. This service is provided largely by lower occupancy vehicles such as microbus and minibuses. Public transport system is inefficient, unsafe, unreliable and highly polluting.

More and more people are shifting from riding public transport to cars and motorbikes due to reckless driving of the public transport drivers. The public transport system in the Valley needs a comprehensive reform and restructuring. Some initiatives are taken on improving public transport system in Kathmandu Valley.

Non-motorized transport has not been prioritized in urban transport planning. For most low income commuters, it is the only affordable mode of transport but poor infrastructure and services have impeded their mobility.