EMBARQ Brazil helps Brasília prepare for new bus rapid transit (BRT) system
In celebration of its 54th anniversary, Brazil’s capital city of Brasília is delivering a new high-capacity public transport system to the city, introducing 43 km (27 miles) of bus rapid transit (BRT). The new system, called Expresso DF Sul, will be Brasília’s first BRT system, and is designed to connect satellite cities to the city center (or the “Pilot Plan”). To prepare technicians, bus operators, and municipal managers for operation, EMBARQ Brazil – with the support of DFTRANS and FedEx – held the QualiÔnibus Program Day One of Operations, between April 7 – 11, 2014. This training program helps prepare city leaders and operators at all levels – from bus drivers to policymakers – for the many different obstacles they are likely to face in their first month of operations.
Getting to work to prepare for Day One
The Day One of Operations program is made possible through collaboration of the various actors with a stake in the success the new BRT system. Transconsult International specialists Angelica Castro and Mario Valbuena led the week’s activities with Daniela Facchini and Guillermo Petzhold of EMBARQ Brazil, which has worked with the city since signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) 2010. Transportation Secretary for the Federal District José Walter Vazquez Filho participated throughout the week, stating afterward that he found “EMBARQ Brazil to be a great partner in providing a solid methodology for comprehending and addressing common challenges.”
The workshop, spread over the course of a weekend, convened municipal technicians and managers in small groups to work through the specific and often unforeseen problems of launching and maintaining a BRT system. The participants were divided into groups, with each member representing a key sector or stakeholder. The consultants established actions and deadlines for the BRT's implementation, and tackled possible risks while outlining strategies to mitigate these risks. Overall, the tone of the program was hopeful, with Facchini confident “that Expresso DF Sul will be a success that will positively transform the lives of thousands of people.” Still, participants recognized that challenges along the way are unavoidable. “It is important to remember that no system is perfect in the beginning. The BRT’s operation will be refined as more phases are launched", added Facchini.
Among the different collaborators, several issues surfaced as essential in order to effectively implement the system. These issues included the necessity to predict demand on the busiest lines, preparing the infrastructure, planning communication and marketing strategies, and paying careful attention to the ticketing system and operational control. Organization of institutional relationships and clear contracts were also highlighted.
Collaboration key to successful implementation
The work between the city of Brasília and EMBARQ Brazil goes well beyond the Day One workshop, and has included a suite of programs to help prepare the city for the launch of a successful, high quality BRT system. Previous collaborations have included strategic alignment workshops, road safety auditing, and microsimulation of the future system the using SimBRT software. Each of these activities contributes to a safe, well-managed, and sustainable BRT system, expanding sustainable mobility options for the residents of Brasília. These efforts will culminate in the launch of the Expresso DF Sul, planned for late May 2014.
The result of the work done by DFTRANS, EMBARQ Brazil, and international experts will be fundamental in developing Expresso DF Sul’s operational guidelines, both for launch and throughout the life of the system. Overall, the workshop made great strides in forecasting risks and creating the cross-sector collaborations necessary to overcome operational challenges. José Walter Vazquez Filho stated to conclude the workshop:
“We have the conviction that we are planting a seed of what citizenship truly demands: quality of life. And there is no way better to improve quality of life than by investing in urban mobility.”