Sustainable transportation planning from Wuhan to Winnipeg

Mitacs Globalink Research Intern at the University of Manitoba examines inexpensive public transport options for a growing city

China’s civil infrastructure planners often face significant challenges when considering ways to encourage sustainable transportation methods for the millions of workers that commute between the country’s residential and commercial districts.  For Chinese research intern Shuheng Zhu, the city of Winnipeg, Canada is providing a special glimpse into the complexities of public transportation planning on a much smaller scale.

As a student of urban planning at Wuhan University, Shuheng has studied how the development of subway transport can influence the migration of workers in China’s biggest cities. This summer, with guidance from Professor Orly Linovski at the University of Manitoba, Shuheng is applying critical analysis to better understand how transportation planners in Winnipeg can optimise dedicated “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) routes to be convenient and equitably located across the city. BRT often provides an inexpensive substitute for light rail or subway systems in areas where existing infrastructure or funding may not be able to support their construction and operational costs. By taking into account factors such as bus stop locations, existing land uses, site constraints, and future development along the proposed route, Winnipeg planners can ensure that the BRT route is a convenient and desirable transportation option in old and new neighbourhoods across the city.

Shuheng is enjoying the opportunity to learn new research methods, and to better understand the research landscape in Canada.

I am going to continue to collaborate with my professor once I go home to China at the end of the summer,” she says. “But I am thinking about coming back to Canada for graduate school too. There are so many possibilities here and lots of good schools that I could attend!”

For now, though, Shuheng is enjoying exploring the sights in Winnipeg and central Canada. But a true student of urban planning, she can’t wait to try out the latest form of sustainable urban planning on an upcoming trip. She says, “A few of us are going to Montreal soon. I’m looking forward to meeting the other Globalink interns who are staying at the universities there, but mostly I can’t wait to try the public bicycle rental system!” 


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and Researah Manitiba for their support of the Globalink research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan.

Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including Brazil’s le Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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