Greater 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.
And 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.
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?