Belo Horizonte launches its second bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor
Less than two months after launching its first bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor, the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte has begun operations on its second: MOVE Antônio Carlos. The corridor is already serving 77,000 passengers per day. The MOVE system is composed of the Antônio Carlos and Cristiano Machado corridors, which connect the city’s center to its major districts. The total system length once fully operational will be 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) of dedicated bus lanes that will serve approximately 700,000 passengers each day in the metropolitan region of roughly five million inhabitants.
400,000 of those users are expected to ride the Antônio Carlos corridor. The MOVE system has been met with citywide approval, with potential to become a nationwide symbol of best practices in sustainable transport – a notable achievement in the country where the BRT concept was born in the first place. EMBARQ Brazil has played a central role over the past four years towards making the MOVE BRT a reality, and will continue to be involved in the project by conducting road safety audits to guarantee both safe and sustainable transport for Belo Horizonte.
City leaders and users alike show approval for MOVE
Ramon Victor Cesar, the president of the Transportation and Traffic Agency of Belo Horizonte (BHTrans), believes that BRT corridors, besides benefiting citizens, will also bolster urban renewal. Cesar sees the opening of the MOVE system as not only an achievement for “higher quality commuting, but also for the city and for development around BRT stations.” He continues, “We have already started to study the implementation of transport-oriented development concepts (TOD) for the areas around the Cristiano Machado and Antônio Carlos terminals."
According to Belo Horizonte Mayor Mario Lacerda, initial research conducted by BHTrans on the Cristiano Machado corridor showed “an 85% approval from respondents. People in all income brackets are using MOVE instead of their cars because it’s a faster and more comfortable way to commute in the city.”
Scaling up for sustainable mobility
For the past two months, MOVE Cristiano Machado has operated with capacity for 100,000 people, fewer than the 300,000 the corridor is expected to eventually serve. Cesar explained that gradually implementing the BRT system in different stages is a strategic move that will benefit the user, as "the system needs to adapt to the routine of the population, and that is not something that happens from one day to the next. The user needs to become familiar with the system and get used to the line changes.”
Luis Antonio Lindau, Director of EMBARQ Brazil, reiterated that this is an essential practice for BRT systems, which differ from underground lines, in which "the situation is fully under control. In the world of buses, the tradition is to make adjustments through gradual implementation. One of the beauties of the system is this flexibility. A good BRT system is one that is always adjusting and making improvements.”
MOVE stands as a leader in sustainable mobility for Brazil
Lindau firmly believes that Belo Horizonte’s transport system will one day become a model for the country: "I would rate the host cities for the World Cup in three groups: those that implemented BRT systems, like Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília; those that devoted themselves to rail projects that never left the drawing board; and towns that developed a mix of roads for cars and modest projects for transit. I’m glad to say Belo Horizonte is on the front line and will influence the whole country in terms of urban mobility.”
MOVE makes a strong argument for mass transport, offering both travel time savings and amenities like air conditioning and pre-paid boarding. Mayor Lacerda has noted that MOVE has already cut commute time by an average of 50%. While this is significant progress, the city has even more ambitious plans for future sustainable transport.
By 2030, Belo Horizonte hopes to increase the share of mass transport to 70%. Cesar highlighted the relevance of strategic partnerships in ensuring success, noting “EMBARQ Brazil’s contribution over the past four years in the process of sharing their knowledge on the best BRT practices around the world.”
EMBARQ Brazil makes safety a priority for the future of MOVE
EMBARQ Brazil continues its commitment to the city by providing road safety inspections on MOVE’s Cristiano Machado and Antônio Carlos corridors, as well as the downtown portion of the MOVE system. This work, in partnership with BHTrans and Consia Consultants, aims to identify areas in the system with potential safety flaws.
“Now that the system is operating, we can identify how people use the corridors and its infrastructure, including accessibility to the stations and pedestrian sidewalks,” says Brenda Medeiros, Transport Projects Manager for EMBARQ Brazil. This is a continuation of EMBARQ Brazil’s work during the construction phase, which resulted in multiple safety interventions to mitigate the risk of crashes. This work is critical, with Medeiros highlighting that road safety audits can reduce the risk of traffic crashes by 40%.
Mayor Lacerda summed up the successes of MOVE as well as the role of EMBARQ Brazil during his inaugural trip along the MOVE Antônio Carlos corridor: “MOVE is an alternative to prove that it’s possible to provide quality, affordable, public transportation in cities. We are very happy, and we heartily thank EMBARQ Brazil for the technical support provided to validate this project.”