Mexico City and Istanbul exchange best practices on people-oriented, sustainable urban mobility
On the eve of the ninth anniversary of Mexico City’s Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) system, EMBARQ Mexico welcomed a delegation from Istanbul, Turkey’s public transport agency, the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company (IETT). The representatives came to learn about the operation and planning of Metrobús and the Optibus system in León, Guanajuato, as well as the share their experiences operating Istanbul’s Metrobüs BRT.
This international collaboration between urban transport leaders brings together the best practices and innovative ideas of both cities to identify successful strategies for building sustainable, people-oriented cities and transport systems that can be adopted worldwide.
Mexico’s Metrobús succeeds with smart technology investments
Mexico City’s needs as a growing megacity have demanded smart use of technology and attention to the diversity of populations that rely on public transport. According to city officials, public transport serves 80% of the city’s total 22 million daily trips. The Metrobús system alone carries 855,000 passengers per day.
Although most cities look to underground rail lines as a symbol of high quality, “modern” transport, Metrobús has shown that developing cities can still create efficient, high capacity transport networks, at a fraction of the cost and requiring less time to implement than metro systems.
The Metrobús has become emblematic of the Mexican capital, with distinctive red buses that run at an average speed of 17 km per hour (11 mph) serving 11 of Mexico City’s 16 different neighborhoods. Metrobús Director Guillermo Calderón attributes the system’s success in part to smart use of technology, referencing screens that provide real-time updates on when the next bus will arrive, and systems that devise alternate routes in the occurrence of a delay. Mexico has also made efforts to help women feel safe on transport by offering women-only sections on Metrobús buses.
Turkey’s Metrobüs stands as successful financial model
Turkey has its own set of different cultural norms and urban development patterns that have shaped its urban transport systems. While Metrobüs does not yet utilize technology in the same way as its Mexican counterpart, its high ridership levels and relatively low operation cost reinforce the notion that BRT is a cost-effective solution for providing sustainable mobility in growing cities.
Metrobüs’s fleet of 560 buses move 750,000 passengers daily over a network of 52 km and 44 stations, and travels at speeds of 35 km per hour (22 mph) on average. The Metrobüs is one of the fastest and heavily trafficked BRT systems in the world, and the only one that serves two continents, linking the European and Asian halves of Istanbul.
Both Metrobús and Metrobüs serve as examples of BRT’s impacts in reducing travel time, curbing air pollution, and improving traffic safety:
Dialogue brings together different stories
During the visit to Mexico, the Turkish delegation traveled on Metrobús lines 4 and 5, toured a BRT parking garage, and spoke with staff in charge of operating and managing the system. These discussions addressed maintenance, programming and monitoring methods, software used in the operational planning, capacity and travel times, and infrastructure and accessibility.
Although both cities’ systems are incredibly unique, they each share an important space in the metropolises’ larger mobility plans, and a common purpose in helping residents have a comfortable, efficient, sustainable alternative to the private car. The teams both realize this shared vision, and look forward to a recurring dialogue and collaboration for mutual learning and success.
Both EMBARQ Mexico and EMBARQ Turkey are committed to helping cities learn from one another, accelerating the scale-up of sustainable urban transport. They joined efforts to bring officials from Istanbul and Mexico City together to exchange knowledge and share best practices. EMBARQ Mexico and EMBARQ Turkey have also partnered with the respective city governments to improve traffic safety and accessibility on BRT corridors and improve quality of life for urban residents.