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Showing posts from June, 2008

Bogotá's BRT 'warts and all'

A stop on Calle 19 of Bogota's Transmilenio BRT system.
Photo by Kinori, taken 10 July 2004. Via Wikimedia Commons.

A new journal article provides a sympathetic but 'warts and all' examination of Bogotá's celebrated (and much emulated) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, Transmilenio, and the dangers that it is now facing.

Fresh from hearing former Bogotá Mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, speak at the World Cities Summit in Singapore last week, my interest was piqued.

The article, "Bus Rapid Transit: Is Transmilenio a Miracle Cure?", is in the July edition (vol. 28, issue 4) of Transport Reviews journal (paywalled, sorry). It is by geographer and expert on Latin American cities, Alan Gilbert of University College London.

The abstract explains:
... The article describes its main characteristics and applauds the improvements that it has already brought to urban transport in Bogotá. Naturally, the system is not without its flaws and these need to be drawn to the attention of thos…

Oil shock may not rescue cities from traffic

Linking expensive gasoline with city-friendly transport.
Cartoon via Streetsblog and Robert Ariail / The State.

It is tempting for advocates of green transport (and some economists) to gloat about high oil prices. It is perfectly understandable to see some glee from critics of automobile dependence as rising fuel costs undermine the economics of places planned around cars and start doing the job of the eco-taxes that should have been in place already.

(For a comedy twist on wishful thinking and oil see this video of James Howard Kunstler on the Colbert Report)

But we need to be alert to dangers here too. Please don't assume that high fuel prices will rescue cities from traffic. Oil at $200 per barrel will not automatically bring about a livable streets renaissance.

Here are some dangers of escalating fuel prices if your focus is a less car-focused urban transport policy
Rebound. Motorists may reduce fuel costs without reducing driving much. Sure, they are already driving less (at leas…

Free parking to ease congestion? I don't get it

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?   Try Reinventing Parking.]
A Hangzhou boulevard (almost 10 years ago now)
The article below from the China Daily online suggests that the beautiful city of Hangzhou is planning to reduce the price of car parking "to ease congestion".

Oh dear ... I hope this is a case of 'lost in translation' but I cannot understand the logic of this proposal.

There may be some (twisted) logic here. The free parking proposal might indeed reduce the total number of cars that can visit the area each day. This is because making parking free will reduce the turnover of vehicles in parking spaces. Workers will take most parking lots early in the day, leaving few spaces for business traffic and shoppers arriving later. This would be very bad for shop-keepers in central Hangzhou. I doubt this is what is intended by the plan.

And would this mean less traffic? Unfortunately no. If public parking is made free, there will be a lot more traff…

Lagos BRT wins praise

Part of the new Lagos BRT system (Photo by Sam Zimmerman
of the World Bank, via WRI's City Fix blog).

The BRT concept has been having a tough time in India lately.

But according to the Nigerian Tribune on 29 May, World Bank officials are impressed with the success so far of the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Lagos, which opened in March.
The World Bank Task Team leader, World Bank for the Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP), Mr. Ajay Kumar, who made the disclosure concerning the project being implemented by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) said the project had been executed beyond the imagination of the team, particularly against the backdrop of tough political and socio-economic environment of Lagos.Speaking during a recent visit to Lagos to assess the operations of the BRT, Mr. Kumar said he would rather send officials of cities seeking to implement the BRT system to Lagos than to Bogotá in Colombia or Curitiba in Brazil.“You have a tough environmen…