In early June, Ulises Navarro, ITDP’s Public Transport Director for Latin America, launched a series of workshops on to be conducted in Brasília, providing crucial training and guidance for analysts and technicians at Brazil’s Ministry of Cities. These workshops represent an important step forward in ITDP’s strengthening relationship with Brazil’s MInistry of Cities. Now more than ever, the Ministry is in need of technical guidance. As federal funds for mobility projects flow to cities in anticipation of the World Cup and the Olympic games, the team at the Ministry of Cities, together with ITDP, is working to ensure that these funds are put to good use, and that the projects they finance are fully integrated into comprehensive mobility plans that will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and guide Brazilian cities’ sustainable growth in years to come.
The government representatives who participated included civil engineers, architects, and public policy experts. Together, they are responsible for making decisions on which projects receive funding from Brazil’s Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) for mobility, as well as for implementing the country’s Mobility Law (12.587/2012), which went into effect in April 2012. The law requires all cities over 20,000 to produce a mobility plan by 2015. At the Ministry of Cities, the team is responsible for providing guidance to cities on how to produce an effective plan, and will also undertake the demanding task of evaluating all of the plans as they are submitted.
The workshop started with a presentation on general principles of sustainable transportation. Ulises spoke in detail about best practices for BRT systems, and when and where these systems should be implemented. The team at Ministry of Cities raised the concern that many cities in Brazil propose metro or light rail systems because these systems are considered more attractive, comfortable, and politically popular. In response, Ulises pointed out that BRT systems can be designed to be equally as attractive and comfortable, and even the most high quality BRT line is still tens of millions of dollars cheaper than metro.
The next session was on best practices for non-motorized transport infrastructure. Ulises spoke about best practices for integrating pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure with the public transport system—a crucial process that is too often ignored in an attempt to keep project costs down.
The presentation on The BRT Standard raised issues around the bus corridors being submitted as “BRT” projects, even though the quality of the systems varies dramatically. Ulises went over the principles that make up a “Basic BRT” system according to the BRT standard, and gave some examples of Gold, Silver, and Bronze systems in cities around the world. The representatives at the Ministry were very participative going through the BRT standard in greater detail in order to have a reference to determine what can truly be considered a BRT.