Bus Rapid Transit System, Bogota
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on August 27th, 2009
Source: By Degrees, NY Times
From “Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities“, Elisabeth Rosenthal
Image: Scott Dalton, NY Times
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Like most thoroughfares in booming cities of the developing world, Bogotá’s Seventh Avenue resembles a noisy, exhaust-coated parking lot — a gluey tangle of cars and the rickety, smoke-puffing private minibuses that have long provided transportation for the masses.
But a few blocks away, sleek red vehicles full of commuters speed down the four center lanes of Avenida de las Américas. The long, segmented, low-emission buses are part of a novel public transportation system called bus rapid transit, or B.R.T. It is more like an above-ground subway than a collection of bus routes, with seven intersecting lines, enclosed stations that are entered through turnstiles with the swipe of a fare card and coaches that feel like trams inside.
Versions of these systems are being planned or built in dozens of developing cities around the world — Mexico City, Cape Town, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Ahmedabad, India, to name a few — providing public transportation that improves traffic flow and reduces smog at a fraction of the cost of building a subway.
But the rapid transit systems have another benefit: they may hold a key to combating climate change. Emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in the booming cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America account for a rapidly growing component of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. While emissions from industry are decreasing, those related to transportation are expected to rise more than 50 percent by 2030 in industrialized and poorer nations. And 80 percent of that growth will be in the developing world, according to data presented in May at an international conference in Bellagio, Italy, sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the Clean Air Institute.
To be effective, a new international climate treaty that will be negotiated in Copenhagen in December must include “a policy response to the CO2 emissions from transport in the developing world,” the Bellagio conference statement concluded.
Bus rapid transit systems like Bogotá’s, called TransMilenio, might hold an answer. Now used for an average of 1.6 million trips each day, TransMilenio has allowed the city to remove 7,000 small private buses from its roads, reducing the use of bus fuel — and associated emissions — by more than 59 percent since it opened its first line in 2001, according to city officials.
In recognition of this feat, TransMilenio last year became the only large transportation project approved by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits. Developed countries that exceed their emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol, or that simply want to burnish a “green” image, can buy credits from TransMilenio to balance their emissions budgets, bringing Bogotá an estimated $100 million to $300 million so far, analysts say.