CitiesToday magazine discusses the benefits of networks to spread advanced bus system expertise
Advanced bus systems have the unique potential to provide innovative and efficient solutions to traffic congestion, vehicle emissions, and road safety at a much lower cost to cities than rail systems. With more than 160 advanced bus systems either in operation or under construction in cities around the world, as well as more than 20 cities currently exploring the possibility, the need to facilitate a network through which cities can share valuable knowledge and practices is clear.
EMBARQ has long recognized the benefits of networking and international partnerships to maximize the benefits of advanced bus systems. In the March 2013 issue of CitiesToday magazine, EMBARQ Director Holger Dalkmann and Dr. Dario Hidalgo, EMBARQ’s Director for Research and Practice, discuss the benefits of building an advanced bus system network.
Saving time by tapping expertise
“Learning from experiences in other cities,” relates Dalkmann in CitiesToday, “can cut planning time in half and contribute to reducing costs in the same way.” With the successful implementation of bus rapid transit systems in Ahmedabad, India; Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico; Istanbul, Turkey; and more, EMBARQ is building a knowledge pool of international expertise in the planning and construction of advanced bus systems that will serve a growing number of cities in the planning stages, such as Indore, India; Arequipa, Peru; and Shanghai, China. EMBARQ facilitates knowledge-sharing among cities, first, by email, telephone, virtual meetings, and online presentations, and then progresses to peer-to-peer learning exchanges, meetings, and conferences. Cities can key into aspects of planning and development, such as garnering local support for projects, integration with other modes of transport, station design, technology acquisition, and other common challenges, such as limited space for construction. EMBARQ, according to Hidalgo, “helps speed up the planning process by tapping into expertise from ... 7 countries and tens of cities —and this is valuable to C40 Cities’ mayors who want to lead with high-impact sustainable transport projects.” In this way, cities can maximize the time and resources invested in these projects.
Constant improvement through best practice sharing and quality evaluations
Getting the bus system rolling is only a beginning, and the most successful cities are constantly looking for ways to improve their bus systems, design safer roads and crosswalks from stations, increase fuel efficiency, accommodate a growing ridership, and raise the quality of life in their cities. “Cities involved in BRT networking,” adds Dalkmann, “can learn problem solving approaches from other metropolises, such as: how to involve incumbent public transport operators; how to set up managing agencies; or how to make the BRT safer through design.” The result of networking at this stage is a set of international best practices and quality standards that other cities can look to as a stepping off point for further development, rather than just a destination. The end goal is not the bus itself, but improved urban quality of life, safer roads and air quality, and a new level of mobility, available to all sections of society.
Leveraging impact of sustainable transport
Working within a network gives individual cities the resources and know-how to maximize the potential of advanced bus systems, and in exchange, such technologies and sustainable mobility solutions become not only a local solution, but a global one with a worldwide impact.