As of May 2013, bus rapid transit (BRT) has expanded to operate in 156 cities across the world, with 83 additional cities currently in the planning and construction stages. In 2005, the Metrobus BRT system came to Mexico City, replacing 1,383 obsolete, highly polluting microbuses. Since then, BRT in Mexico has expanded to 35 lines, with 526 buses transporting over 1.16 million passengers per day, along 156 kilometers (97 miles) of road. Mexico’s BRT impact has been felt in the form of 180,000 total commuting hours saved; a 110,000-ton reduction in CO2 emissions -- equivalent to the annual emissions from 22,917 passenger vehicles; and a 35% reduction in harmful particle pollution.
EMBARQ director Holger Dalkmann emphasized BRT benefits as part of the Second Annual Future Megacities in Action 2013 conference, in Hamburg, Germany. Dalkmann also participated on two sessions, on mobility, integrated sustainable urban transport systems during a high-level conversation intended to advance discussion between public sector representatives, political decision makers, and researchers.
Bus rapid transit integrating with city culture in Mexico
Mexico City’s Metrobus is a good example of the versatility of bus rapid transit and its ability to adapt to historic districts, with cultural, tourist, and commercial value, while offering urban accessibility. Bus rapid transit has also helped make Mexico City’s streets safer for pedestrians, by recovering streets and sidewalk space for pedestrians and other road users. The bus rider experience has also been enhanced with entertainment and safety technology, as well as external fare systems, and accessibility for people with a variety of mobility needs.
In 2009, the Mexican Federal government instituted the Public Transportation Federal Support Program (PROTRAM) to fund public transportation improvements in cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants. As a result, BRT systems are being promoted in 35 cities across Mexico with the support from the Federal government.
But according to Dalkmann, BRT in Mexico still faces obstacles in the form of opposition from private bus operators, the need to build human skills to define quality BRT projects, shifting political agendas, and the limited number of communication strategies that currently in place to bring such projects into the public light, both before and after completion.
Bus rapid transit systems are but a part to rethinking urban development around mobility, and Mexico’s transport planners should tap the potential for further integration between the Metrobus, suburban rail systems, inter-urban transport companies, the airport, the Metro system, and the Ecobici bike-sharing system in order to scale up a sustainable mobility future.
Read more from Holger Dalkmann on TheCityFix.com here.
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