METRO MANILA was ranked the most congested major city in developing Asia by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which noted in a report that such problems are generally due to “lack of efficient and affordable public transportation.”

In the bank’s Asian Development Outlook 2019 update released Wednesday, ADB said Metro Manila topped the list of most congested cities with a population of at least five million in developing Asia.

“The big cities… with populations of 5 million or more, tend to have congestion, peak travel times relative to off-peak travel times, (and are higher (in the congestion rankings) than average,” ADB Macroeconomic Research Division Director Abdul Abiad said in a media briefing.

Rounding out the list of congested cities are Kuala Lumpur, Yangon, Dhaka, Bengaluru, India and Hanoi.

ADB studied 278 “natural cities” in the region — those that built up over time — using Google Maps and other tools to estimate travel time by car, train or bus.

Across 278 cities, ADB reported that on average, “24% more time is needed to travel in peak hours than in off-peak hours.”

“They calculated average travel time using Google Maps, comparing peak travel times with off peak travel time and… how this ratio of peak to off peak travel time is different across cities,” Mr. Abiad said.

The study also used nighttime city images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, grid population data from LandScan Datasets of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and trip routes from Google Maps.

“A lack of efficient and affordable public transportation is often considered a cause of urban congestion,” it reported.

ADB said commuters in many Asian cities rely on public transportation, including informal transport services, and “lack of efficient and affordable public transportation is often considered a cause of urban congestion.”

“One is you need to have good land use planning and regulations which then enables things like multimodal transport systems which help people go around,” Mr. Abiad added.

ADB reported that buses have an advantage of lower investment costs and less complex implementation while mass transit by rail has a larger carrying capacity while being insulated from road traffic, though it requires higher capital investment.

“As the opening of mass public transit services often drives up land value, the public capture of land appreciation is a promising option for funding urban infrastructure,” it added. — Beatrice M. Laforga