Could you briefly explain EMBARQ and SIBRT?
Luis Gutiérrez - EMBARQ’s mission is to act as a catalyst and help implement environmentally and financially sustainable transport solutions to improve the quality of life in cities. Since 2002, the network has grown to include five Centers for Sustainable Transport, located in Mexico, Brazil, India, China, Turkey and the Andean Region, that work together with local transport authorities to reduce pollution, improve public health, and create safe, accessible and attractive urban public spaces. The network employs more than 100 experts in fields ranging from architecture to air quality management; geography to journalism; and sociology to civil and transport engineering.
SIBRT brings together Latin America’s most influential Integrated Transit Systems and Bus Rapid Transit (“BRT”) agencies. SIBRT facilitates the exchange of knowledge, produces “best practice” studies of the management, standardization, and operation of urban public transport, and proactively promotes Integrated Systems and BRT adoption as the safest, most efficient and sustainable form of mass transit. The Association is committed to quality urban public transportation development. SIBRT is present in 19 cities of 8 countries, which together comprise more than 95 million urban inhabitants. Its Associates provide public transit services to more than 20 million riders per day on more than 700 km of exclusive bus corridors (further information in www.sibrtonline.org). SIBRT was created in April 2010 with headquarters in Curitiba.
EMBARQ acts as SIBRT’s General Secretariat.
What is the functional concept of BRTs and why are they interesting for Latin America?
Luis Gutiérrez - BRTs are high-performance transportation solutions for urban corridors with elevated demand. BRT was conceived as an alternative to metros and light rails, which are more expensive, take longer to implement, and are less flexible than BRTs. BRTs, like railways, are one solution to sustainable urban public transportation challenges; they are an important part in managing the complex transportation needs of growing cities. The BRT model was invented in Curitiba. The design features that constitute a BRT are:
• Exclusive corridors
• High-capacity buses, either articulated or bi-articulated buses
• Closed stations using pre-paid ticketing systems
• Centralized control system
• Smart card payment collection system
• User information systems
Curitiba’s BRT has two additional design elements which are often overlooked in other BRT systems throughout the world:
1. The BRT system was designed as part of an integrated network of buses that serves the entire city.
2. The BRT and integrated network are linked to land use management, providing a comprehensive citywide transportation vision.
These two components were not sufficiently present in the following BRT systems: Trole of Quito (1995), and Transmilenio in Bogotá (2000). In the Quito Project, only the colonial center was connected to the city’s other bus networks and in Bogota the BRT was implemented above the Avenida de Caracas (the corridor with the greatest level of demand), making it detached form the city’s center. It is worth highlighting that Transmilenio revolutionized the mass transit industry when it achieved the highest level of BRT capacity at 45,000 passengers per hour per direction. Transmilenio shifted the mass transit paradigm, proving that BRT is indeed a mass transit solution that can compete with rail-based technology.
Transmilenio’s success led to the acceptance of BRTs in the mass transport industry. Its impact can be seen in the graphs below, which show the evolution of BRTs and exclusive corridors for bus routes worldwide. In a 10 year period between the launch of Transmilenio in 2000, when there were 23 BRTs in the world, the number of BRTs worldwide has reached 134 cities. As of 2012, 53% of BRT passenger demand is located in Latin America although significant growth levels are being noted in China and India.
In Latin America, EMBARQ and SIBRT have been promoting the integration of BRTs into the entire city transportation network. We have found that it is not enough to have solutions that only focus on main corridors; rather to provide high quality service the transportation system needs to be integrated operationally, physically, and fares must allow for transfers. Fortunately, Latin American cities are increasingly moving towards high-quality integrated transport solutions for all citizens.
What problems are found during development?
Luis Gutiérrez - The lack of clear policy on the part of national governments with regards to sustainable transport and the prioritization of public transport is a challenge for cities attempting to develop a BRT. Some national governments have highly advanced transit policies while others do not. Brazil stands out as a leader in the field. Brazil voted last April to adopt a highly advanced Public Transport Act which is geared towards sustainable mobility founded on the following basic pillars:
• Collective and non-motorized (bicycle) public transport.
• Physical and fare integration of mobility aimed at the entire population.
• Demand management of the use of private vehicles.
• Acknowledgement of persons and rights of public transport users (quality standards of vehicles, information, time-keeping and openness of service).
• Establishment of directives which state:
• Efficiency and quality of service are demanded of Public Sector Managers.
• The reduction of contaminating substances and emissions.
• Transport and Transit Plans (PlanMob) for cities with more than 20 thousand inhabitants (previously 60 thousand) in order to provide federal resources.
Another policy element that is lacking in most countries is the adoption of urban mobility as a social right. This would allow for governments to assign resources more efficiently and take into account the social and economic impacts of urban transport projects.
Limited institutional capacity, with regards to infrastructure (public sector) and operations (private sector), limits the funding options available to regional governments. These problems are even more of a problem when city and local governments are searching for funding options.
With regard to institutional capacity, we have found that there are limited human resources availability that have the skillset needed to carry out and promote BRT and integrated transportation solutions. As demand continues to grow for transit modernization projects this will create a bottle-neck. Available financial resources are beginning to increase, but the lack of institutional capacity at the city and local level will prevent funders and investors from dispersing their funds, creating lost opportunities for public transportation improvements.
The challenge of private operator capacity is of the utmost importance. The majority of transport services (80 to 85%) are provided using buses or mini-buses with highly deteriorated service levels, operating under precarious company structures. Public transportation services run by professional and modern companies are still the exception to the rule. Where they exist they are found in tandem with BRTs or integrated transport systems (the latter generally in Brazil). Perhaps this might be the most sensitive issue for the transformation of public transport in Latin America. The quality of private transit companies deserves greater study in order to best understand how to change from conventional operators to professional operators.
What were main conclusions drawn from the 2nd SIBRT Congress held in Leon in April 2012, and what were your highlights from this event?
Luis Gutiérrez - During the 2nd SIBRT Congress 28 high-quality presentations were given on the four transportation issues:
Public Policy for Sustainable Urban Transport, Financing of Integrated Transport Systems, Road Safety for Urban Bus Networks and Quality of Service / User Satisfaction / Image of BRTS. These presentations allowed us to reach conclusions which will guide the next stage of SIBRT’s benchmarking work.
Amongst the dignitaries present at the event, the following are worthy of special mention: the President of the Municipality of Leon, Ricardo Sheffield Padilla; the Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, Luis Revilla; the Columbian Deputy Transport Minister, Felipe Targa Rodríguez; the General Manager of the EMBARQ Network, Holger Dalkmann; the General Manager of URBS-Curitiba and president of SIBRT, Marcos Isfer; the General Manager of BHTrans, Ramón Víctor Cesar; The World Bank’s Urban Transport Advisor, O.P. Agarwal; and the Deputy Chair of the Infrastructure and Services Forum in Spain, Julián Sastre; as well as the General Manager of Excelencia ALC-BRT, Juan Carlos Muñoz.
The event attracted the attendance of more than 350 specialists and operators in the field of urban public transport from 15 Latin-American countries and beyond. Management representatives and technical staff from 19 SIT and BRT associate management agencies in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru were present. Other attendees included transport managers and public sector representatives from countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Canada, Spain, the United States and India. Also participating were representatives of operators from the aforementioned countries amongst which was Otavio Cunha, the General Manager of the NTU, the National Association of Brazilian Operators for Urban Transport. 21 sponsors took part including: DINA, Pagobus, ACS, Andina Technology, Empresa1, Inteligensa; Silver Plus: Volvo, GMV, Servyre; Caliper, Doppelmayr, Hersan, Trapeze, BEA, Transconsult, InterBerica, Grupsa, Nettropolis, Hyundai, Régie T, Bioplast. The organization of the event was funded by EMBARQ.
How are these projects linked to the philosophy behind PPPs?
Luis Gutiérrez - Due to their very nature urban public transport projects imply PPP style solutions. The public sector usually assumes financing of BRT infrastructure, as well as duties pertaining to regulation and management of operational contracts. The private sector generally operates and manages the bus fleets and drivers and receives a concession from the government to operate for a determined number of years. In this way a combined action between public and private sectors is indispensable in order to avoid serious negative externalities, which are generated in the urban transport market:
Inefficient land use (congestion and urban chaos).
Negative effect on public health (accidents, pollution, lack of public space for physical activities) utterly onerous for governments, companies and families.
All of this demands the presence of the public sector combined with an efficiently managed and professional private sector presence, which incorporates state-of-the-art technology in order to provide the service levels expected. For this reason, there must be a meeting of minds and an alignment of wills geared towards the citizens’ needs with an eye towards how those needs align with private sector interests.
What is the outlook for major projects on the horizon?
Luis Gutiérrez - According to estimations made by EMBARQ and SIBRT, the modernization of public transport networks in 242 Latin American cities with more than two hundred and fifty thousand households which signifies around three hundred and seventy million inhabitants requires:
27,000 M US$ for public investment in infrastructure, in order to put into service, 5,400km of additional BRT corridors, and a further 70,000 M US$ of private investment for fleet renovation.
Luis Ricardo Gutiérrez
Mr. Gutiérrez has 36 years of experience as an expert in decision-making processes and capacity building. He has extensive experience in BRT and urban transportation projects in policy and planning arenas. An engineer and economist, Mr. Gutiérrez holds a master’s in Development Planning from the National University of Engineering of Lima, Peru as well as a master’s in Economics and studies for Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University.
Mr. Gutiérrez has been an economic research professor at some of the most esteemed universities in his native Peru. He managed the preparation phase of the BRT Transportation Project for Lima and Callao, Peru from 1996 to 1998 for the World Bank. As a consultant for the World Bank, he worked on a variety of sustainable transport and poverty relief projects in Latin America. In 2001, he was recruited for the position of Vice-Minister of Transport in Peru and later became the executive director of an ambitious reconstruction program aimed at rebuilding the area affected by the 2000 earthquake in southern Peru.
Mr. Gutiérrez has been the strategic director for Latin America at EMBARQ since 2003. From this position, he helped establish CTS-Mexico, CTS-Brazil and CTSS-Andino; and built strategic partnerships with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). In September, 2009 Mr. Gutiérrez was honored with the WRI President Award. He is a founder and honorary associate of the Association of Latin American Integrated Transport Systems and BRT (SIBRT), and serves as the General Secretary of SIBRT. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Center of Excellence ACL BRT (Across Latitudes and Cultures Bus Rapid Transit). Throughout his career as an academic, journalist, public official, consultant, and director he has authored a number of books, essays, and articles.
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