October 30 2012

Just One Way for a Bus Rapid Transit System in Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires ArgentinaGreater Buenos Aires, Argentina is a massive metropolis of 14-million people, whose active population commutes, by the millions, daily, towards the main federal district from distances of 53 kms. (approximately 26-miles), mainly using the massive and 24-hour public transportation system of “Colectivos” with rates from 23-cents to $1.20. Impressive, huh?

This may sound like a full-fledged system when you consider the traffic collapse of cities in Latin America, but it is far from being sustainable: Giant wait lines, even longer delays, growing insecurity, a collapsing infrastructure, and the instability of the tariff which is currently subsidized by the government –as a political maneuver-. And now that is collapsing too, forcing an eventual increase in the costs for the citizens at any time.

So, what about the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT)? The government of the federal district is pushing for a SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY PLAN, which is centered around the implementation of the “Metrobus;” reducing space for cars and private transportation, as every BRT system usually does, but implements a massive urban planning intervention that always ends up changing the face of a city for good.

Buenos Aires ArgentinaAnd here is the main issue; let’s not fool ourselves. Buenos Aires is not Curitiba, the mother city of the system, and this plan is not as ambitious like Bogotá’s “Transmilenio,” often referred to as “Curitiba on Steroids.” This is a very limited plan oriented towards one transit corridor, with no intention of expanding beyond a couple more extensions. In order for that to happen, there would have to be a comprehensive relationship with the other transportation systems, in a multi-modal fashion, and lacking the proper design of a BRT, in terms of special corridors, and the architecture of its metro-like stops.

So Misused!

Would be amazing to say that this program is just the beginning in a series of expansions towards a more sustainable urban transportation for Buenos Aires, but this new transportation system maybe  is just another missed and politically-used opportunity for this city?

Credits: Data linked to sources. Images provided by the author.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 at 6:29 pm and is filed under Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “Just One Way for a Bus Rapid Transit System in Buenos Aires?”

  1. Mauricio Quintero Says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Mr. Lozano has nailed the main issue with transportation systems in (most of) Latin America: the lack of a long term policy in regards to mobility to favour current politicians and their short term needs. I look forward to reading your next blog!

  2. Em Says:

    The use of (or misuse of) public transit policy by politicians and lack of long term planning is a very familiar and current situation here in my small US city of Indianapolis. Coming from our limited system to that of Buenos Aires, I loved the 24 hr colectivos that took me anywhere, even in spite of the long lines and many problems you outlined. I hope the politicians in both our cities take note. Saludos desde Indianapolis and looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Luis Says:

    Muchas gracias por tu comentario Em.

    You are right we still have a quite decent system here if you compare to many cities in Latin America or even North America.

    The main problem now, as I mentioned is that this system is collapsing, especially security-wize, I wouldn’t want to get on those 24 hr colectivos at 3 am or 4 am, its just not a smart move! and your personal intergrity can be jeopardized.

    Metrobus as a BRT system with stations is really improving that, but still there’s a long way to go to actually retrofit the colectivos system in this city. For now the BRT is limited and still there are places that you should think twice if you want to board a bus late in the night.

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