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Liberalisation, urban governance and gridlock: Diagnosing Yangon's mobility crisis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
Early online date10 Sep 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2019


The city of Yangon is home to over 5 million people, hosts Myanmar's largest port and produces a disproportionate share of national output. But a mobility crisis is undermining the city's economic potential and contributing to a deteriorating quality of life for its residents. The most obvious symptom of this crisis is acute traffic congestion. The proximate causes are clear: growing demand for journeys, a surge in vehicle numbers, a modal shift away from buses, and myriad ‘flow disruptions’. However, solving this mobility crisis requires recognizing the underlying causes, including a ‘congestion incentive spiral’ fuelled by rapid liberalisation of vehicle imports in a context where there are few viable alternatives to buses and private automobiles. This situation is a direct consequence of systematic failures in urban planning, investment and regulation linked to active neglect from successive military regimes and dysfunctional institutional arrangements. To preserve its rich urban heritage, Yangon will need to embrace 21st century integrated planning practices that seek to maximise accessibility and mobility for all people rather than minimise traffic congestion for those who use cars.

    Research areas

  • Congestion, Mobility, Myanmar, Urban transport, Yangon



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