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Public transportation, inequality, and the urban poor


July 2015 — Public transportation systems hold a city together. A system's efficiency, affordability, and reliability define whether citizens can travel easily for work, education, daily errands, and leisure. Public transportation has the potential to open up new opportunities for the urban poor, but at the same time runs the risk of maintaining or even exacerbating geospatial inequalities. With burgeoning urban populations, the question of transportation becomes ever more critical with regard to cities' carbon footprints.

This month's discussion examines the relationship of public transportation to inequality, with a particular focus on the mobility of cities' low-income residents. Follow the conversation as it unfolds over the course of July and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tricycle boom offers alternative to public transportation in Lilongwe

Lilongwe, 28 July 2015 — At times, public transportation can be a nightmare in Lilongwe, where no public transportation services exist. Minibuses, taxis, and sometimes bicycles offer transportation options. Minibuses have their issues, and taxis can be costly. Yet this was the state of affairs until two years ago, when tricycles started becoming an affordable and convenient option. See more.

Politics, passengers and practice: There's a lot riding on Johannesburg's BRT

Johannesburg, 27 July 2015 — Political transformation in South Africa also meant spatial transformation, significantly predicated on public transport. With the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme and associated e-tolling, and municipal Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure underway in Johannesburg and the Gauteng Province, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory has suggested that "the region appears to be in a new 'golden era' of transit infrastructure design and investment." See more.

Lost opportunities in development

Delhi, 24 July 2015 — The "smart cities" discourse is prevailing in India with the recent outlay of Rs 98,000 crore (USD $15 billion) by the government to execute 100 Smart Cities. But do we have inclusive and sustainable transport strategies for Smart Cities? Read about CONNECTKaro and the case of Delhi Bus Rapid Transport Corridor to know more. See more.

Regulating buses to ensure safe commutes

Lagos, 23 July 2015 — Ease of transportation in urban areas depends not only on access but also on quality and safety of the transport options. With various safety issues worrying Lagos residents, the city introduces measures to increase safety through the easy identification of legitimate commercial vehicles using registration and badges. See more.

حمل و نقل عمومی یا بزرگراه؟

Tehran, 22 July 2015 — تجربه متناقضی در تهران وجود دارد که از یک سو ادامه سیاست های شهرداری برای ترجیح دادن حمل و نقل خصوصی به حمل نقل عمومی بود و از سوی دیگر دسترسی بسیاری دیگر را به مراکز کار و فعالیت آسان تر نمود: احداث بزرگراه امام علی از یک سو و تعبیه یک خط بی آر تی طویل از سوی دیگر. ادامه مطلب.

Un nuevo modelo de negocios en el transporte Caraqueño

Caracas, 21 julio 2015 — ¿La solución al problema de transporte público pasa únicamente por el incremento de la inversión en infraestructura? ¡No! Aparte del presupuesto dedicado a brindar un mejor servicio en términos de calidad y eficiencia, gran parte de la clave se encuentra en redefinir e innovar el modelo de negocios. Así los muestran proyectos recientes en esta importante urbe latinoamericana. Leer más.

Regularización de Bici-taxis

Mexico D.F., 20 julio 2015 — El surgimiento de las bici-taxis ofrece una alternativa de movilidad a las zonas aisladas de la Ciudad de México; al ser altamente demandadas por la población, la normatividad del transporte público las ha regularizado como un servicio de transportación. Leer más.

Teleférico do Alemão: mobilidade urbana ou apropriação mercadológica?

Rio de Janeiro, 17 Julho 2015 — Inaugurado em 2011, o primeiro sistema de transporte de massa por cabos do Brasil alterou o imaginário coletivo à respeito do Complexo do Alemão (onde está instalado), um imenso conjunto de favelas antes lembrado apenas pela violência e pelo tráfico de drogas. Considerando o propósito original do projeto — facilitar a mobilidade dos moradores —, no entanto, sua eficácia é questionável. Leia mais.

Problemas en la implementación del MIO en Cali

Cali, 16 julio 2015 — La falta de planeamiento ha generado problemas graves en la implementación del sistema de transporte masivo de Cali. Problemas en el servicio, la coexistencia del sistema nuevo con el tradicional, y graves problemas financieros han generado sucesivas oleadas de protestas por parte de todos los actores involucrados. La intervención del Gobierno central se ha requerido para resolver algunos de estos problemas. Leer más.

Mengurai kemacetan Surabaya dengan SMART

Surabaya, 15 Juli 2015 — Sistem transportasi umum Kota Surabaya belum terintegrasi dengan baik. Jika Jakarta memiliki busway dan KRL untuk menciptakan system transportasi yang berkeadilan maka Surabaya akan segera memiliki monorail dan tram (SMART). Dengan system ini diharapkan mobilitas masyarakat diperkotaan akan lebih mudah dan masalah kemacetan dapat diselesaikan. Baca lebih lanjut.

Xe buýt công cộng cho học sinh: Facebook đã giúp cải thiện chất lượng dịch vụ như thế nào?

Ho Chi Minh City, 14 Tháng Bảy 2015 — Không phải món quà nào cũng tốt, nếu chúng không được trao với cả tấm lòng. Tương tự như thế, không phải chính sách trợ cấp nào cho đối tượng có nhu cầu cũng đều tốt, nếu chất lượng dịch vụ bị bỏ qua. Câu chuyện sau đây về xe buýt tại TP. HCM mô tả cách mà Facebook, mạng xã hội phổ biến nhất hiện nay, đã giúp cải thiện chất lượng của xe buýt công cộng và làm cho việc trợ giá xe buýt thật sự là một lợi ích có ý nghĩa cho các bạn sinh viên. Xem thêm.

Car-free Sundays launch a movement in Mumbai

Mumbai, 13 July 2015 — More and more Mumbaikers are foregoing hot, overcrowded public transport in favor of a personal vehicle. Streets in the city have become a grid-locked mess, causing major commuting woes. But now, on Sundays, city residents jam onto the streets in new ways — jumping rope, riding bikes and doing yoga. Car-free Sundays have taken off in Mumbai and around the country — a first of many small initiatives that show a growing need for alternative, sustainable transport options in urban areas at risk of being overtaken by the car. See more.

Public policy to ensure affordability and access to safe public transportation

Abuja, 10 July 2015 — Efforts to improve public transportation systems in Abuja led to stringent policies limiting the transport routes available for commercial vehicles such as buses. In order to mitigate possible effects arising from the designated route policy, initiatives targeted towards ensuring adequate transportation options and affordability, such as unified taxis rates, are ongoing in Abuja. See more.

Curitiba não é mais a mesma

Curitiba, 9 Julho 2015 — Referência mundial em mobilidade, o sistema de transporte público da capital paranaense passa por uma grave crise. Conheça três grupos independentes que estão ajudando o governo a botar a mobilidade da cidade de volta nos trilhos. Leia mais.

Protestos criativos fortalecem luta por transporte em comunidades isoladas

São Paulo, 8 Julho 2015 — Comunidades a 60 km do centro de São Paulo sofrem com falta de transporte público. Em alguns lugares o ponto de ônibus mais próximo fica a quilômetros de distância. Moradores se organizaram e em dois anos de protestos conquistaram novas linhas de ônibus. Leia mais.

Addressing transportation and logistics for Nairobi residents using non-motorized means

Nairobi, 7 July 2015 — In Nairobi, one of the most dangerous things you can do is to cross the street. According to the National Transport and Safety Authority, there were nearly 3,000 recorded deaths due to traffic accidents in 2014, the overwhelming majority of which were pedestrian. See more.

Solusi Jakarta untuk sistem transportasi yang berkeadilan

Jakarta, 6 Juli 2015 — System transportasi yang adil adalah hak setiap warga termasuk kelompok warga yang secara sosial, ekonomi dan fisik terpinggirkan. DKI Jakarta telah memiliki BRT (TransJakarta) dan saat ini telah memperbanyak jumlah bis pengumpan (feeder) untuk menjangkau lebih banyak daerah miskin serta perbaikan pedestrian untuk meningkatkan mobilitas warga. Baca lebih lanjut.

مترو أنفاق القاهرة: وسيلة مواصلات منخفضة التكلفة وآمنة لسكان القاهرة الفقراء

Cairo, 3 July 2015 — مترو أنفاق القاهرة بخطوطه الثلاث يعتبر ثورة حقيقية في إمكانات الانتقال والمواصلات في مدينة شديدة الازدحام كالقاهرة. فهو يُمّكن الناس من التحرك بحرية والقدرة على العمل كي يتمكنوا من تحسين مستوى حياتهم. اقرأ المزيد عن ذلك

Could congestion charges transform Bangalore?

Bangalore, 2 July 2015 — Indian's booming IT hub of Bangalore has attracted young professionals from all over India. The population growth has brought with it new wealth and a host of issues, especially traffic. The city has been overtaken by the car, and the situation is only expected to get worse — unless serious measures are taken to curb the trend. Congestion charging has been on the table for years — could this be what Bangalore needs to recapture its former glory as India's Green City? See more.

Integrando los sistemas de transporte en Bogotá

Bogotá, 1 julio 2015 — Aunque el Transmilenio (el sistema BRT de Bogotá) comenzó a funcionar en el año 2000, su integración con el resto de sistemas de transporte de la ciudad no comenzó hasta el año 2012. La ausencia de un plan inicial ha resultado en un proceso de integración sumamente complejo, costoso y problemático. Leer más.

 

Join the discussion on public transportation, inequality, and the urban poor in the comments below.

 
You can also join our June discussion on cities as engines of change.


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Comments

Chilungamo Hunga's picture

I like it that waste enterprises are fast evolving in various parts of the world into serious businesses. In my country th challenge however is related to markets. There are a few markets for waste. The way to go would be value addition. It would be interesting to read about waste value chains and maybe a turn around to a more formal systematized business.

jorgebela's picture

Hi Carlin,

indeed solving transportation problems takes both carrots and sticks. Many people like to use their cars for reasons such as social prestige, etc. But it is true that very often public transportation is not convenient, or even safe. Bangalore has roughly the same size as Bogotá, and they seem to share similar problems. In Bogotá the subway is still only a preliminary project, and the BRT, which was initially extremely successful, has been bogged down by delays, corruption and cost overruns. There is not local passenger train system (no passenger trains exist in Colombia). In 1998 they created the Pico y Placa system, which restricts circulation of private cars and most taxis for two days each week, depending on their license plate. The measure has proven to be largely ineffective. Many individuals bought a second car to dodge the rule. Congestion charges are currently being considered. Still, coercive measures must be accompanied by improvements in the public transportation system.

Carlin Carr's picture

Hi Jorge, it's really interesting to hear from you in Bogota, because your city is always hailed as a great example of one that really made the BRT and other public/non-motorized transit options work. I'm curious to know more about what happened with the BRT or if you think there's any way to enhance this project or make it work. The reason I ask is because while you mention that there isn't a train system, many transport experts I've spoken to in India say that the bus system is actually where cities like ours should be investing their money The investment is much lower and the timeframe is much quicker. If the issues with the BRT in Bogota are related to over-budget costs and delays, couldn't the same thing happen with something like a train project? I think congestion charges are needed no matter what to curb car growth, which is hard to reverse once people go down that path.

Thanks for all the insights!

Shaima Abulhajj's picture

Hi Widya,
Great piece. I wonder when the BRT started in service? Why the tickets are quire expensive in your opinion is it because it is privatized or because of the general energy costs in the country which of course adding up the transportation prices.
Thank you

Andréa Azambuja's picture

Hi Carlin, hi Jorge,

Jorge, Transmilenio was inspired in Curitiba's BRT system, and the city faces the same problems you mentioned about Bogotá. While the public transport system is going through a serious crisis, not coincidentally Curitiba is the Brazilian capital with the highest number of cars per individuals – what made me think of your article, Carlin. What should be the cause and what should be the consequence?

Making an exercise and thinking if the congestion charge would be applicable in Curitiba, I couldn't avoid thinking that would be a bit schizophrenic, as Brazil has a national policy to encourage the purchase of cars. So I was curious: Carlin, while Bangalore and India in general deal with the traffic issue, is there any tax incentive campaign in the country that aggravates the problem? Furthermore, do you think Bangalore's public transport system (even with the metro) is efficient enough to validate this initiative? Is it sufficient to transport all these people would be leaving their cars at home?

Thanks :)

María Fernanda Carvallo's picture

Hola Jorge,
Muy interesante la propuesta sobre el Sistema de transporte Integrado. La ciudad de México tomó el ejemplo de Bogotá como referente para implementar el Metrobus, que al igual que en Colombia tuvo que negociar con las empresas de autobuses; logrando que estos ya no circularan sobre las mismas vías en donde circula el Metro Bús. En la Ciudad de México se ha aumentado el número de líneas que cubren las diferentes regiones de la Ciudad, y es el sistema de transporte público que mayor conexión tiene con la periferia de la ciudad; no obstante aún permanecen muchas zonas aisladas en donde la población no tiene acceso a un sistema de transporte integrado que permita una movilidad de calidad y eficiente. Me parece muy buena alternativa aunque costosa el vincular los diversos medios en pro de la movilidad.

Hello Jorge,
Very interesting proposal on the integrated transport system . Mexico City took the example of Bogota as a reference to implement the Metrobus , which like in Colombia had to negotiate with bus companies in order to make these no longer circulate on the same streets in which circulates the Metro bus. In Mexico City it has increased the number of lines that cover different regions of the city, even the periphery of the city ; however there are remote areas where the population does not have access to an integrated transport system that allows a good mobility . The integration of the transport system is a very good alternative although costly, it links different means of transport towards mobility

widya anggraini's picture

Hi Shaima, great questions. BRT or TransJakarta started in January 2004 and is operated by company under the city government. It is expensive for two reasons I think. First it is not well integrated with other transportation mode so people need to transfer few times to reach the corridor. It is not the ticket per se is expensive, but the efforts to make it there that’s makes it expensive. For average people BRT ticket is affordable, but then now several minibuses with AC are allowed to use BRT lanes and they charge more. This is also disadvantaging the poor. Secondly, even though the e-ticket now is implementing, BRT does not provide a single trip ticket for one or two times users so they have to pay full price. Lack of optional tickets for passengers becomes burden also. In the case of energy cost, it does not become an issue in BRT system as many of the BRT uses gas. The price itself is lower because of government subsidy.

Felipe, you have an interesting case on how protests and people power can bring such changes. May I know how they organize themselves? Who are really in charge of the protests and make government finally agreed to provide busses?

I also noticed that this month’ s articles gives strong argument on how community largely can turn things out and made their points heard by the authority as can be seen in Curitiba. Can I also ask Andrea that with so many organizations pushing forwards their agendas, how the government responded? Or do the government gives not only channel but also some political power to realizing each groups’ plans? thank you

Felipe Villela's picture

Very interesting article, Hilary. It's amazing that the majority of the population walks to work in Nairobi.
Does this means that people walk for several hours every day?
I'm curious because in Sao Paulo people spend, on average, nearly three hours in daily commutes, riding buses, trains, cars. But it would be impossible to do it walking!

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