When Brazil secured its position as future host to both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, a new opportunity to upgrade urban transport came into focus. In 2009, the federal government announced $6.6 billion of funding for improved urban mobility to host cities, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) became a central plank of this agenda. Around 500 km of BRT systems will be constructed in eight cities, almost doubling the current BRT lineage in all of Latin America.
EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Brazil (CTS-Brasil) convened a pivotal international event at which President Lula declared sustainable mobility a priority for Brazilian cities—marking the first time that a president of Brazil attended an urban transport event. CTS-Brasil leveraged its expertise, relationships, reputation, and political and technical leadership to promote high-quality BRT in four major cities:
In Recife, CTS-Brasil introduced the BRT concept and technically supported the terms of reference for contracting a $1.3 million BRT engineering design study.
In Belo Horizonte, CTS-Brasil delivered a strategic framing workshop to align stakeholders and identify potential risks to the implementation of the three planned BRT corridors.
In Rio de Janeiro, CTS-Brasil applied the EMBARQ BRT Simulator to provide critical support the city’s candidacy as an Olympic site.
In Porto Alegre, CTS-Brasil and EMBARQ played a vital role in acquiring $100 million financing from CAF, and convincing CAF to approve a $1 million, non-refundable grant for refining BRT studies.
CTS-Brasil also contributed to the editing of a BRT manual which will be distributed to all urban and metropolitan bus operators throughout Brazil.
These achievements pave the way for a consistent national sustainable transport policy. In recognition of CTS-Brasil’s contributions, the Ministry of Cities invited CTS-Brasil to a prestigious group of advisors to guide its criteria for federal financing of an additional $10 billion in sustainable transit solutions.
Embarq’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-Mexico) has played a leading role in the implementation of the federal government’s Public Transportation Federal Support Program (PROTRAM).
On the heels of successful sustainable transport implementation in several key Mexican cities, the federal government’s creation of PROTRAM in 2009 signaled an important shift toward strong institutional support for nationwide sustainable mobility. PROTRAM offers grants to subnational governments for up to 50% of the infrastructure cost of public transportation projects. As the first program that provides federal funding for urban public transit, PROTRAM is a critical component of the mainstreaming and replication of sustainable transit systems across Mexico.
CTS-Mexico has served as the government’s main advisor in implementing PROTRAM effectively and improving the quality of its projects. The Secretary of the Treasury and Public Credit appointed CTS-Mexico to evaluate the technical and financial feasibility of public transportation projects seeking funding from PROTRAM. In this role, CTS-Mexico developed project evaluation guidelines that allow for rapid analysis of each project, and is responsible for continuous high-quality operational and financial reviews. CTS-Mexico is uniquely positioned to reconcile competing interests and offer objective, forthright advice.
CTS-Mexico has reviewed a total of 21 projects and positively influenced the design quality of eight projects now in the investment phase -— in Guadalajara, Mexico City, Chihuahua, Mexicali, Tijuana, Culiacán, Monterrey, and Veracruz. One of these projects, the second line of Guadalajara’s BRT, has been funded by PROTRAM and is now under construction. The other seven projects are confirmed in PROTRAM’s financing pipeline and are moving forward toward implementation. By providing project evaluation guidelines and assistance, CTS-Mexico has not only improved the efficacy of each project proposal submitted, but also strengthened PROTRAM’s institutional capacity to provide funds in the future.
Rio de Janeiro is a leader among the Brazilian cities aggressively promoting low-carbon development. In 2011, the city passed a landmark climate change law with a target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 8% below the business-as-usual (BAU) emissions scenario by 2012, 16% by 2016, and 20% by 2020.
Now Rio is conducting a GHG inventory for 2012, the first target year under its climate change law. The inventory will measure the city’s emissions against its 8% reduction target for 2012, and assess the effectiveness of GHG mitigation actions implemented so far.
On July 2, the city government of Rio invited me and my colleagues from the Greater London Authority and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE) to a seminar to share our experiences in conducting GHG inventories and to discuss Rio’s 2012 inventory. At the seminar, Nelson Moreira Franco, Director for Climate Change Management and Sustainable Development for the City of Rio, stressed that GHG inventories help identify emission sources and provide scientific evidence on GHG levels, so it is extremely important that the city gets it right. To me, the seminar covered four important items:
Specifically, INFONAVIT connected CTS-México to the mid-sized city of Aguascalientes to transform a new low-income housing development, encompassing 10,000 houses for 40,000 people. CTS-México recommended solutions for mixed land use, public transportation, green spaces, and walking and bicycling.
In March 2010, the municipal government revised its development plans to include about 70 percent of CTS-México’s recommendations. The new design is expected to increase the neighborhood’s demand for public transportation, biking and walking. And the level of social interaction is expected to quadruple through the addition of four community centers and a 1.5-kilometer pedestrian-cyclist road. Dense development connected to mass transit can help reduce carbon emissions and lower urban infrastructure costs.
The redesigned development plan is estimated to reduce traffic speeds by 34% and also increase the demand for public transport by 30% to 60%, bike trips by 4% to 50%, walking trips by 24% to 40%, and green space by 5% to 30%.
Indore is one of the fastest growing cities in India, faced with the daunting task of providing a modern and efficient public transit system to its 1.8 million residents. Rising to the challenge, Atal Indore City Transport Services Ltd. (AICTSL) established an effective and well-organized transit agency to operate and manage the city’s public transport system. AICTSL is India’s first long-term public-private partnership (PPP), which has enabled the city to expand its transit system to 225 buses and double capacity to 220,000 daily trips. The city also began developing a BRT system, which is expected to be operational by June 2011.
CST-India was instrumental in AICTSL’s success by providing technical support for Indore’s successful request to the Ministry of Urban Development to fund 170 new buses, and preparing and negotiating contracts with private partners. CST-India also helped plan bus routes, develop vehicle specifications, establish AICTSL’s organizational structure, and design and implement a performance monitoring system. In addition, EMBARQ advised on important changes to the BRT system design, including high-platform island stations to ensure level-boarding, making the system more efficient, convenient and accessible for all passengers.
Jaipur, in northern India, is a tourist destination well known for its forts, palaces, and gardens. The city is also witnessing a rapid growth in its trade and manufacturing industries, and an influx of people from small villages and nearby towns in search of employment, education, and a better standard of living.
Facing high transport demand and lacking a formal public transport system, the city is partnering with EMBARQ India to help manage the reorganization of bus services, as a crucial first step toward a modern, sustainable transport system. Technical assistance from EMBARQ, WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport, included guidance on fare structures and contract negotiations to reduce operational costs. We also helped develop tools for bus schedules and for monitoring performance to improve quality of service.
The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. Ridership on the Jaipur bus system increased from 65,000 in July 2010 to 172,000 in March 2011, and the city is planning to expand the system from 200 to 400 buses. India’s Ministry of Urban Development recognized Jaipur’s new bus system as a best emerging initiative at its annual urban mobility conference.
With cities set to house almost 5 billion people by 2030, how urban transport systems are designed will be pivotal for local economies, public health, and the global environment.
In June 2012, Rio de Janeiro blazed a trail for sustainable transport when it launched a 56 km cross-city bus rapid transit (BRT) system. Designed and implemented with technical support from EMBARQ, the high-tech bus route carries 220,000 passengers a day, establishing best practice in bringing improved quality of life while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
BRT systems bring proven environmental, social, and economic benefits to crowded, congested, and polluted cities.
In Rio, the new BRT line, Transoeste, replaces short, fragmented bus routes with a rapid-transit corridor that gives priority to buses and enables passengers to cross the city on one bus instead of several. Pre-ticketing speeds journeys, as do dedicated BRT lanes and high-platform stations in place of roadside bus stops. For the first time, people from the west of Rio de Janeiro without cars can easily access opportunities in the far south.
The result is safer transport, shorter commutes, less pollution, and greater social inclusion. Typical travel time has been cut by at least half for 65 percent of riders. Surveys suggest 90 percent of passengers are satisfied with the new service. “Now I have one more hour to sleep in the morning and more time to play with my kids in the evening,” was one typical comment.
EMBARQ studies show road safety benefits from the BRT corridor. The BRT will save an estimated 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2016, as well as 148 million hours of passengers’ time.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
EMBARQ promotes BRT routes and their critical role in sustainable, integrated public transport systems around the world.
In Rio, EMBARQ Brazil partnered with the Municipal Secretariat for Transport and Mayor Eduardo Paes in providing technical support for Transoeste. In addition to providing design and project management expertise, EMBARQ assisted with marketing the new transport system to residents and the media. We also guide continuing safety audits that will help maximize passenger safety benefits.
By 2016, the year Rio hosts the summer Olympics, city authorities plan to expand the BRT network to 153 km. This expansion would make it the largest BRT network in Latin America, carrying 1.2 million passengers daily. By showcasing the bus transportation of the future, Rio’s actions can help promote BRT scale-up across emerging economies.
Urban transport in India, the world’s second-most populous country, has wide-ranging effects on local public health and safety, as well as on the global environment.
The number of auto-rickshaws in Indian cities has doubled between 2003 and 2010, offering significant opportunities to promote more sustainable transport. In a move to reduce pollution, improve road safety, and boost service, in July 2012, the city of Rajkot in Gujarat launched India’s first organized fleet service for auto-rickshaws.
EMBARQ India helped design and implement the pioneering fleet service, which sets a precedent for other cities seeking to provide sustainable public transport choices for India’s soaring urban population.
Reforming Rickshaws, Promoting Sustainable Transport
Auto-rickshaws are used for 10-20 percent of daily motorized road trips in India’s urban centers. Fleets range from 30,000 vehicles in medium-sized cities such as Rajkot (population 3.8 million) to 150,000 vehicles in Mumbai. While they provide a crucial form of intermediate public transport—especially for low-income residents—auto-rickshaws raise health and safety concerns. Their two-stroke engines are a major source of PM10 (soot) emissions, and poor design and maintenance can threaten passenger safety. Traditional lack of management of the sector creates additional problems, including informal fares and empty trips that generate unnecessary pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Rajkot’s solution was to launch G-Auto – India’s first city-supported, privately operated fleet auto-rickshaw service. Managed by the city government in partnership with Nirmal Foundation, a charitable trust, G-Auto launched with 100 vehicles and will expand significantly over time.
Benefits for passengers include reliable, meter-based services; trained drivers; dial-in, doorstep pickup services; and dependable auto-rickshaw presence at bus terminals, railway stations, and the airport. In terms of broader sustainable transportation policy, G-Auto promotes the use of public transport and reduced reliance on private motor vehicles.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
EMBARQ India was a key partner in designing and implementing Rajkot’s organized auto-rickshaw fleet. In April 2011, EMBARQ India signed an MOU with the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) to help the city implement the sector reforms.
Based on our service-model concept, RMC invited bids to run the fleet service. EMBARQ India then drew up the pioneering partnership agreement and helped organize the service launch.
EMBARQ India is continuing to monitor the service and provide technical support. There is great demand to replicate the Rajkot model in other Indian cities. In August 2012, the city of Surat led the way, launching a pilot rickshaw fleet of 35 vehicles, with aspirations for significant scale-up.
Legislation by national governments to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is essential to achieving a low-carbon economy and improved public health worldwide.
In 2012, Mexico took the historic step of enacting a comprehensive climate change law. The groundbreaking legislation commits Mexico to cut its GHG emissions by half by 2050 and prominently features sustainable transport initiatives.
EMBARQ Mexico played a major role in shaping the law, proposing measures for mass transit, fuel efficiency, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and restrictions on high-polluting vehicles—all of which the government included.
Setting a Precedent for Global Climate Action
When a government signals its seriousness about combating climate change by passing legislation, it promotes the country’s transition towards a competitive, sustainable, and low-carbon economy. It provides a precedent for other countries to follow suit, and gives a boost to the U.N. international climate negotiations.
Mexico’s groundbreaking law makes it one of the first countries to adopt ambitious and comprehensive legislation on climate change. Enacted by President Felipe Calderón, the General Law of Climate Change seeks to guarantee citizens’ right to a healthy environment. The law will unlock substantial federal funds for low-carbon development and will prompt new regulations to mitigate GHG emissions.
In a major departure from the international climate negotiations, the bill’s measures for reaching the 2050 emissions goal include transforming transportation systems and infrastructure. Mexico’s president worked across party lines at the federal, state, and city levels to win agreement on the policies needed to meet the bill’s ambitious targets.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
EMBARQ Mexico was designated as the transport expert to review the draft bill when it went before Mexico’s Senate and make specific policy recommendations.
We proposed key sustainable transport measures that were included in the final law, including the development of sustainable mass transport systems and improved infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. The bill also includes our recommendations to develop new fuel-efficiency standards for light and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as regulations restricting imports of high-polluting vehicles.
EMBARQ’s prominent role in the legislation stemmed from our work in helping Mexican cities to introduce sustainable transport systems, as well as our national policy research demonstrating the importance of sustainable transport as a climate-mitigation strategy.