City of Almaty Sustainable Transport (CAST), Kazakhstan

Context of Transport Climate Action 

Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan, has faced challenges associated with urban sprawl and the rapid increase in the use of private motor vehicles for urban transport. There are currently more than 550,000 vehicles registered in Almaty. An additional 200,000 commuter vehicles enter Almaty from outlying regions. Increased car use and continuous city sprawl generate rapid growth in overall vehicle kilometers travelled. It is estimated that motor vehicles in Almaty travel 5,780 million kilometers annually, with an annual growth rate of approximately 6.4%.

More than 80% of the Almaty’s air pollution is from the transport sector. GHG emissions in Almaty are expected to grow by 75% over the next 10 years and the total time commuters spend sitting in traffic will more than double. Despite major investments in transport infrastructure over the last few years, Almaty’s current urban transport network is far from sustainable. Both congestion and pollution are steadily growing, and cars dominate the city’s streets, leaving little room for non-motorized travel.


The objective of the project is to reduce the growth of the transport-related greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Almaty, while simultaneously improving urban environmental conditions. Therefore, in order to transform the city into a green city, actions under this project are taken to:

  • Support public transport, walking and cycling as sustainable modes of transport
  • Introduce on-street parking management in the city center as part of traffic management reform
  • Better integrate urban planning with transport planning and introduce transport impact assessment
  • Integrate Almaty’s transport system with the suburbs


Bicycle Lanes; Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

This approach ensures that all projects match with Almaty’s development and transport needs. The list of pilot projects introduced by ‘City of Almaty Sustainable Transport (CAST)’ include:

  • the introduction of a Light Rail Tram line,
  • the development of rapid transit bus lines and several dedicated bus lanes along major transport corridors to decrease passenger travel time,
  • the development of a new transport demand model as the basis for cost benefit analysis and
  • the development of a city master plan.

The project has also organized several trainings to demonstrate approaches to reduce fuel consumption and improve operations inside of public transport companies.


The CAST project team, in coordination with partner organizations, focuses on technical assistance to the municipality in the following areas:

  • Justification and development of a new mass rapid transit system (light rail tram, bus rapid transit)
  • Technical assistance in the design and construction of modern bike tracks and integration of mass rapid transit with bicycle infrastructure
  • Optimization of public transport lines to realize an integrated network and decrease operational losses
  • Integrated and user-friendly schedules and maps to help passengers use the system easily
  • Promotion of the use of green vehicles (compression natural gas – CNG, and electric vehicles) in private and public fleets
  • Launching of a public awareness campaign on cycling and broad social advertisement covering at least 1/3 of city population.

In order to facilitate the development of a long-lasting, fast, affordable, accessible, sustainable

and financially stable transportation system in Almaty, the project has collaborated with financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and knowledge centers (International Association of Public Transport – UITP, Institute for Transportation and Development – ITDP) and involved local NGOs for the promotion of traffic safety and non-motorized transport amongst young populations.

The project faced the challenge of lack of knowledge in transport planning amongst local professionals. In order to address this , an annual training workshop involving all professionals and officials dealing with transportation matters from Akimat and from the private sector (including bus drivers) was arranged to make legal adjustments to support these types of projects.


Bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor discussions; Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan


  • As a result of discussions on various scenarios, the CAST project created a list of pilot projects that will reduce air pollution emissions and GHGs by 32%, relative to current levels, by 2023
  • Direct project GHG emissions reduction is estimated as 31,000 tonnes CO2eq
  • Increase of sustainable transport modes (public transport, walking and cycling) from 42% currently, to 55%.
  • The number of trips by car will therefore drop by over half a million trips daily, from 1.75 million to 1.22 million
  • Due to the provision of a reliable, attractive, accessible and affordable public transport systems, people will shift from driving cars and taking taxis to greener modes of transportation

Implementation of the CAST strategy allows Almaty to decrease the number of fatalities due to road accidents, especially accidents involving pedestrians, by 35%.

Potential for scaling up 

The CAST project works as a key sustainable urban mobility knowledge hub and provides trainings for representatives from other cities in Kazakhstan who have participated in and shared experiences during multilateral international meetings. Almaty is leading the design of the first bus rapid transit (BRT) lines in Central Asia and would like to introduce new approaches for re-designing transport infrastructure taking into account the benefits for all road users and environmental challenges.

The project has recommended that construction standards be improved to foster the redesign of sustainable and safer streets and has introduced cycling design standards applicable for other cities.

Selected references (on-line collection of project publications available )



Almaty, Kazakhstan






Kazakhstan, Mitigation, Passenger, Technology, Policy, Awareness, Partnerships


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Municipality of Almaty city Global Environment Facility (GEF)


Yelena Yerzakovich Marina Olshanskaya

“The CAST strategy promotes a more integrated approach to planning, linking all modes of transport together and coordinating them with the city development. This method require close collaboration between all partners in the development process During development of the City Almaty sustainable transport strategy (2013-2023) we consulted with experts and have incorporated many of their recommendations to the city master plan”
-Yuri Ilin, Deputy mayor, CAST project national director