Inclusive transit in cities of the Global South

Inclusive, efficient, and sustainable transit networks are a crucial component of thriving cities, especially given the challenges posed by environmental concerns, overcrowding, and rapid urbanization. Innovative advances in technology along with ambitious visions for comprehensive and more effective urban transit have already led to monumental changes in Mexico City, Cali, Nairobi, Cairo, and URB.im's newest node, Lilongwe. From a fast-growing online platform for carpoolers to the creation of a fully cashless bus system, transit options in these cities are expanding and improving. Keep reading to find out more, and then add your thoughts to the conversation below.

Click on the city names to see each city's perspective below.

Mexico City
Cali
Nairobi
Cairo

 

María Fernanda Carvallo

 
Opción de movilidad en auto comunitario

María Fernanda Carvallo, Gestor Comunitario de Mexico D.F.

 

Una de las problemáticas del tráfico en las ciudades se debe al alto porcentaje de autos privados que circulan con un solo pasajero, lo cual causa un uso ineficiente de este transporte. De acuerdo a Aventones, en el D.F., más del 70 por ciento de los autos tienen este fenómeno, por lo que se pudiera aprovechar el mismo espacio generando una red social y con grandes beneficios para la ciudad: "menos tráfico, menos emisiones, mejores ciudades".

Aventones es una plataforma en línea que promueve y facilita la cultura de compartir autos y taxis dentro de comunidades de confianza como lo son las empresas, las instancias de gobierno y las universidades. Es un sistema en donde personas que pertenecen a una misma institución se organizan y se comunican entre sí para encontrar rutas, horarios, y espacios vacíos de manera segura; de esta manera, aprovechando mejor los recursos.

Esta plataforma nació de un proyecto de jóvenes comprometidos con el emprendimiento social, y que se preocupan por mejorar el tráfico y la calidad de vida en las ciudades de América Latina. Actualmente, la plataforma se encuentra en Chile, Perú y ciudad de México. En el Distrito Federal, se está implementando en grupos corporativos como: Costco, Grupo Modelo, Coca Cola, Nextel, Metlife, Compartamos; y otros sectores como el Gobierno del Distrito Federal, las instituciones públicas y las universidades.

Esta iniciativa tiene diversas aristas que persiguen una mejor calidad de vida en las ciudades. En primera instancia desde el ámbito individual, la iniciativa facilita que las personas dentro de una institución puedan tener acceso a un medio de transporte, y que sea más eficiente al reducir los costos de movilidad. Para las organizaciones, fomenta una cultura de responsabilidad social y ambiental, y mejora la convivencia y la productividad entre los colaboradores. En un tercer nivel, el impacto que se busca en la sociedad, es la reducción de la contaminación por emisiones de CO2, así como el tráfico en la ciudad.

Aventones, en cifras afirma que se han creado más de 13mil rutas y 220mil kilómetros compartidos, así como 45 toneladas de CO2 que han reducido. Entre los reconocimientos que ha obtenido se encuentra el World Summit Youth Award, otorgado por la ONU. Así mismo, The Next Web, un blog reconocido en Estados Unidos, reconoció en el 2012 a Aventones como la "Mejor App Web" y en la edición del 2013 se reconoció como el "Mejor B2B Startup".

Esta plataforma actúa bajo el marco del Gobierno del Distrito Federal (GDF), ya que este promueve incentivos fiscales a las empresas comprometidas con la movilidad. Entre las líneas de acción del GDF para promover una movilidad sustentable se encuentran los siguientes puntos:

  • Sistema integrado de transporte: articular y mejorar la oferta y calidad del transporte público.
  • Calles para todos: vías primarias de calles completas y vías secundarias con tránsito calmado, además de calles de prioridad peatonal.
  • Gestión de la movilidad: más movilidad con menos autos.
  • Cultura de movilidad: cambio de hábitos de movilidad.
  • Distribución eficiente de mercancías: infraestructura eficiente para el transporte, los centros logísticos y para la regulación.
  • Desarrollo orientado al transporte: más viviendas alrededor de estaciones del Metro y Metrobús.

Uno de los grandes retos para el progreso con respecto a la movilidad sustentable, sería para Aventones, ya que esta opción de movilidad sustentable se puede extender a sectores en donde existe la población vulnerable. Por otro lado, la seguridad del pasajero en este sistema tiene que ser garantizada; de ahí, la importancia de generar un auto comunitario bajo círculos de confianza.

Foto: Aventones

 

Comments

María Fernanda Carvallo's picture

El proceso de urbanización conlleva la sinergia de diversos actores; el D.F. al igual que Cali presentaba problemas financieros en los esquemas de transporte público innovador. Por lo anterior, a partir del año 2000 se implementó un esquema de inversión en el mejoramiento urbano que destinó recursos público-privados para el tema de transporte público y la movilidad; lo cual permitió que la red del Metrobús en el DF se ampliara 75 kilómetros más con estaciones y terminales.

Actualmente este sistema de autobuses de tránsito rápido atraviesa la Cd. de México en sus cuatro extremos; por lo que reduce el uso de automóviles, las emisiones de carbono y es un sistema de transporte más flexible y de bajo costo como el de los autobuses con alta tecnología y servicio. No obstante uno de los grandes retos es integrar los diversos sistemas de transporte de la ciudad para que sea menos costoso y más fácil a los usuarios de realizar las transferencias durante los viajes.

Shaima Abulhajj's picture

I believe carpooling is a great way to reduce emissions and improve quality of life, while preserving the natural resources. The main issue of all cities is that one family might have more than 3 cars, and some times the car numbers are more than the household members number even, which is something needs to be addressed on policy making level as well. Great initiative anyway from South America.

Shaima Abulhajj's picture

Integrating mobile phones and ICT to facilitate people life, specially transportation is a really great initiative. The scenario might be from an European country but to find such initiative in Nairobi given the economic challenges and the high density of people in each kilometer is something should be credited for the government and at the same time for the telecom companies there who were cooperative to facilitate people life and change the stereotype of transportation problems in the city.

Katy Fentress's picture

Hi Maria, I found your article on the Aventones Social network very fascinating.

Have you tested the system at all to see how well it works?

Also, is it something that you use in an impromptu way (for example I have just left a conference and don't have a lift home, can I access the network and see if there is anyone else at the conference who is going in my direction?) or is it more about scheduling regular commutes to the office?

I really wonder if there is an APP being developed for it. Sounds like it would be very useful.

All in all this is something that would really work in Nairobi, I hope it makes it this way!

María Fernanda Carvallo's picture

Hi Katy, thanks for your comments.

I haven't tested at all the system, for the moment it works from a scheduling basis in order to see who goes to the same direction with anticipation. I think is a very good initiative in order to reduce traffic and pollution and to increase mobility. On the other hand a big challenge to scale the project and open it to the public in general, is to guarantee the security of the passengers if you don't know at all the people that becomes user of the system in insecure contexts, otherwise it is reduced to people that works at the same office or shares the same context.

Katy Fentress's picture

Yes obviously security is an important consideration to make. I wonder if it could work like eBay or something, where users get stars and build up a certain amount of referrals so that even if you don't know them, you can be reasonably sure (for ex. nobody from my company knows this guy but he got three stars from different people working at, say, the IBM office and so if they say he's ok he must be...) that they are not potential kidnappers.

Traffic in Nairobi is a huge problem and I see single people sitting in their huge gas guzzlers every day. What makes this even more annoying is the number of these gas guzzlers that have UNEP (the United Nations Environment Protection agency) number plates. That I am aware of, there is no car pooling system in Nairobi but given the popularity of apps and smart phones and the steadily rising price of gas, something like this could actually prove to be quite a hit. Keep me in the loop as to any updates and developments to the system!

Jorge Bela's picture

Hi Maria Fernanda, I was also fascinated by Aventon. Despite its challenges, it shows the way to the future. New technologies and social media will revolutionize local transportation on the medium term. Initiatives like BlaBlaCar have already made car sharing a rutinary option in many countries (I used it myself last month for a trip within Spain). car sharing is one more way to tackle congestion and lift the burden on overcrowded mass transport systems. Things will move quickly on this area, I anticipate.

Shaima Abulhajj's picture

Hi Maria and Katy,

Nice articles. I believe that such system will maintain environment and ensure sustainability of roads and reduce emission and traffic congestion. I wish if Cairo would implement such system and will try to shed the light on local newspapers on such initiative.

Jorge Bela's picture

Hi Shaima, traffic jams in Bogotá are terrible. When I tell well travelled people that I believe this is probably the worst in the world, they often respond that Cairo is even worse! Often the problem is not that laws are not strong enough. The problem is usually enforcement. If driver perceive that they can get away with a violation, they will commit it regardless of the potential fine. Automatic cameras and more efficient, less corrupt enforcement is the key, rather than increasing penalties and fines.

Jorge Bela's picture

Hi Nora,

Here in Colombia we also face stiff opposition from private mini bus operators to any mass transit improvements. Just last month Cali was paralized by thousand of minibuses clogging traffic in protest for a new law taking effect. This is a major political problem, and takes both skill and finesse. It is key to open up job opportunities for the old minibus drivers. Still, a complicated problem still not solved in Bogota or Cali.

I also share your concern for pedestrians (and bikers): the constitute the bulk of daily transit, still too often they are neglected or even forgotten in planning new solutions.

Nora Lindstrom's picture

Jorge,

Thanks for your note. Yes, definitely a problem in many places. In Lilongwe it's yet to take manifestly political proportions, but the situation is certainly not straightforward. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of the JICA plan. I used to live in Cambodia and have with interest followed the (barely existent) development of public transportation in Phnom Penh, also developed with JICA. While the initial venture failed, one route is now operational (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/17/cambodia-publi...) - at least for the time being. What provides an interesting contrast though is that in Phnom Penh it is largely point-to-point operators (tuktuks and motodops) that are the main competition to public transport, the equivalent to minibuses (East African matatus) don't exist in the city.

Nora Lindstrom's picture

Katy,

Really liked your piece on Nairobi. Funny how the initiatives you describe there seem like light years away in Lilongwe. I would love to know more about the disconnect between cool (and well-funded and well-promoted) initiatives like the matatu map and the everyday experience of local residents. Not that the initiatives aren't very interesting, just that I suspect there's more to the story than the hype, and you seem to know that.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.