The knee-jerk reactions to traffic problems in South Asia have been either to build new or widen existing roads, or to build the expensive underground subway systems. Bus-based alternatives, especially bus rapid transit (BRT) have had a tough time winning the approval of the transport policymakers in South Asia. Despite the efforts by dedicated experts, such as Professors Geetam Tiwari and Dinesh Mohan of IIT Delhi, to promote bus transit, which is affordable and effective in the South Asian context, the news media in South Asia has mobilised the opinion against BRT.
The recent recognition of a BRT project in Ahmedabad, India, for implementing Janmarg, India's first full bus rapid transit (BRT) system, for the 2010 Sustainable Transport Award should help spread awareness about the affordable transit alternatives for South Asia.
Kudos to Ahmedabad. Here are the details:
City's Janmarg Bus Rapid Transit System Reduces Carbon Emissions, Dramatically Improves Residents Access
Cities in Developing World Dominate Award
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 -- The developing world is leapfrogging developed countries when it comes to urban transport, with the city of Ahmedabad, India, today announced as winner of the 2010 Sustainable Transport Award for the successful implementation of Janmarg, India's first full bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
"This year's Sustainable Transport Award nominees demonstrate the relevance of the developing world in the fight against climate change while improving citizen's quality of life and enhancing their international competitiveness," said Walter Hook, Executive Director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. "Cities have the power to significantly reduce carbon emissions by actively seeking ways to improve transport."
The Sustainable Transport Award is given annually to a city that uses transport innovations to increase mobility for all residents, while reducing transportation greenhouse and air pollution emissions and increasing cyclist and pedestrian safety and access.
Ahmedabad's Janmarg BRT system is a sustainable model for the future of transportation in India, where a quarter of the world's population lives. "BRT systems can positively impact air quality if car and motorbike drivers start taking trips by bus," said Sophie Punte, Executive Director of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-ASIA). "This is particularly important in Asian cities, where air pollution levels are often far above guidelines of the World Health Organization."
City residents have embraced their new BRT system; 18,000 daily passengers use Janmarg to commute to work, to school and elsewhere. In just a few months of operation, Janmarg has transformed the delivery of transit in South Asia. Janmarg uses innovative central median stations pulled away from the junctions. Bus stations feature passive solar design, an inexpensive way to keep stations naturally cool. The city is making continued efforts to be a leader in sustainable transport, including incorporating high-quality pedestrian facilities in some corridors, as well as bicycle lanes. Ahmedabad has initiated car-free days and recently announced more.
For the first time in the six-year history of the Sustainable Transport Award, all of the nominees are cities in developing nations. The four honorable mentions go to Cali, Colombia, for transforming citywide BRT service with MIO; Curitiba, Brazil, for opening a new BRT line and city park on a former federal highway; Guadalajara, Mexico, for completing a full BRT system in less than two years and at an affordable cost; and Johannesburg, South Africa, for creating Rea Vaya, Africa's first BRT and the first public transit system that connects Soweto to the downtown district.
The cities that received honorable mentions were all recognized for creating new BRT systems that reduce carbon emissions and create an optimal environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
The city of Cali, Colombia, is revolutionizing public transit with a complete overhaul of its transport systems. Cali opened its BRT system, called MIO, introducing a new type of service that allows the buses to work both within and outside its dedicated corridors.
Curitiba, Brazil, continues its sustainable transport heritage to link land use policy to transport interventions, including not only buses but also cycle ways, public space and pedestrian access.
"Curitiba has laid the foundation for innovative transit," said Kathryn Phillips, a transportation policy expert with Environmental Defense Fund based in Sacramento. "Everyone recognizes it deserves to be an honorable mention recipient for the 2010 Sustainable Transport Award."
Guadalajara, Mexico, opened a full BRT system in just two years. This rapid implementation shows the city's courage and its political dedication to delivering public transport access to its residents.
"The Guadalajara Macrobus BRT System is an extraordinary example of farsighted leadership, good planning, and effective implementation," said Daio Hidalgo, Senior Transport Engineer, EMBARQ, The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport. "Macrobus is now fully operational just two years after the idea was embraced by the local authorities, with high quality and extraordinary performance."
"Nominations to three major Latin American cities (Cali, Curitiba and Guadalajara) for this year's Sustainable Transport Award reaffirm the leadership role adopted by this region of the world to develop cleaner and more efficient transport systems," said Sergio Sanchez, Executive Director of the Clean Air Institute. "Examples like these should enlighten other Latin American cities and elsewhere to keep moving to build more competitive cities, while improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
The city of Johannesburg, South Africa, opened the first full BRT in Africa, and completed the first mass transit investments in the city since the fall of apartheid. Rea Vaya is the first public transit system to link the previously disadvantaged Soweto area to the central business district.
"In under three years, Johannesburg opened a state-of-the-art BRT system that uses the cleanest buses on the continent," said Manfred Breithaupt of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH. "Johannesburg's accomplishment against enormous challenges and the upgrading of the corridor in Soweto with lighting and sidewalks makes it an exceptional honorable mention."
Chosen by a selection committee that includes the most respected experts and organizations working internationally on sustainable transportation, this year's nominated cities have successfully addressed a diverse range of urban transport challenges. The Sustainable Transport Award selection committee includes the most respected experts from organizations working internationally on sustainable transportation. The committee members include:
- Walter Hook, Executive Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
- Kathryn Phillips, transportation policy expert, Environmental Defense Fund
- Ralph Gakenheimer, Chair, Transportation Research Board Committee on Transportation in Developing Countries
- Sophie Punte, Executive Director, Clean Air Initiative for Asia Center
- Sergio Sanchez, Clean Air Institute, Clean Air Initiative for Latin American Cities.
- Dario Hidalgo, Senior Transport Engineer, EMBARQ, The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport
- Manfred Breithaupt, Senior Transport Advisor, GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit)
- Heather Allen, Senior Manager, Sustainable Development, International Association of Public Transport (UITP)
- Choudhury Rudra Charan Mohanty, Environmental Expert, United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)
The Sustainable Transport Award is given each year during the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. Past winners include:
- 2009 – Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, United States, for making bold moves to achieve the ambitious goals of PlaNYC 2030.
- 2008 – Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, Paris, France for implementing a range of innovative mobility solutions with vision, commitment and vigor.
- Mayor Ken Livingston, London, United Kingdom for expanding London's congestion charge program and developing other low emissions programs that dramatically impacted air quality.
- 2007 – Mayor Jaime Nebot, Guayquil, Ecuador for revitalizing the downtown, creating dynamic public spaces, and instituting a new public transit system.
- 2006 – Mayor Myung-Bak Lee, Seoul, Korea for the revitalization of the Cheongyecheon River and the implementation of its bus rapid transit system.
- 2005 – Former Mayor Enrique Penalosa, Bogota, Colombia for the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system, bicycle integration, and public space reclamation.
For more information, photos, and videos about the award and a list of past winners, visit www.st-award.org.
SOURCE Institute for Transportation and Development Policy