EMBARQ Brasil provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia—three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities—to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched, cutting 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent.
Brazil is the sixth-largest economy in the world, and 85 percent of its citizens are urban dwellers. However, Brazilian mega-cities suffer from poor transportation design and infrastructure, increasingly relying on cars and motorcycles as people become more affluent. Every day, millions of cars flood Brazil’s streets, resulting in traffic congestion, road fatalities and air pollution. Meanwhile, inefficient, low-quality bus services cause long, uncomfortable commutes. Bus rides that would take 40 minutes in an efficient system take more than twice that in Brazil’s urban areas. These problems are compounded by the country’s booming urban population.
Starting in 2010, WRI’s Brazilian transport arm, EMBARQ Brasil, provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia — three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities — to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. BRTs incorporate bus-only traffic lanes with large, state-of-the-art buses to provide fast, high-quality service.
In each city, EMBARQ Brasil convened bus companies and operators, agency officials, and other major stakeholders to plan and invest in BRT networks. It also hosted workshops, giving those who will implement the projects a chance to learn from BRT experts and put these lessons to use in operation manuals and contingency plans. With extensive experience in BRT, EMBARQ Brasil provided technical expertise to design the actual systems, placing as much emphasis on safety, accessibility and low emissions as on speed and efficiency. EMBARQ Brasil experts then trained the system operators.
In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. These systems cut 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent, and millions of city residents benefited from safer roads and cleaner air. The success of the BRT systems has motivated the governments of all three cities to continue to expand the networks, with an additional 211 kilometers of BRT in the planning and early implementation stages. These projects provide a model of transportation reform, empowering and inspiring other Brazilian cities to achieve sustainable urban mobility
A new report, Better Growth, Better Climate, finds that there are several actions city leaders can take that can reduce emissions while driving economic growth.
The report finds that connected, compact cities could save $3 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next 15 years. Not only that, but they can also curb global climate change and yield immediate local benefits for air quality, health, and quality of life.
City leaders will have a key role at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, which brings together heads of state, mayors, business leaders and civil society representatives to work toward an international agenda to tackle climate change and build resilience.
While many of these criticisms are justified, if one looks beyond the shiny new stadiums—namely, to the city streets—a more positive story emerges. World Cup-related investments helped finance sustainable transport systems that will benefit Brazilians long after the final whistle blows.
Cities already house half of the world’s population and are expected to add an additional 75 million people each year. The rapid growth of cities, especially in the developing world, presents enormous opportunities and challenges to ensure that growth is equitable and sustainable.
The upcoming World Urban Forum (WUF7), organized by UN-HABITAT, will address the ways cities can become more sustainable and livable for all residents.
New research shows that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can reduce travel time by millions of hours for commuters worldwide. For instance, BRT users in Istanbul, Turkey, can save 28 days per year by shifting from other transport modes to BRT. Commuters in Johannesburg, South Africa, meanwhile, can save an estimated 73 million hours between 2007 and 2026. That’s the equivalent of more than 9 million eight-hour work-days.