Until recently in Guayaquil, a city of 2.3 million, the quality of public services like transportation was at an all-time low. Traffic congestion and air pollution were ever-increasing problems as over 80% of the city’s residents made their trips in individual cars or 20-year old buses.
In 2006, Mayor Nebot opened the first 15 kilometers of the Metrovia bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which provides cleaner, higher quality service that reduces trip times in key travel corridors.
At its current rate of growth, the BRT system is expected to expand to 45 kilometers serving almost 500,000 daily passengers by 2008. Equally as remarkable is Mr. Nebot’s success in integrating the private bus services into the Metrovia operating consortium while retiring over 500 of the fleet’s oldest and highest-polluting buses.
Also under Mr. Nebot’s leadership, previously deteriorated public spaces like Guayaquil’s waterfront and Santa Ana district were refurbished to encourage pedestrian use and form an important part of the city’s resurgence.
In addition, the city celebrated its first Car-Free Sunday in September 2006, closing streets to traffic that allowed thousands of residents to enjoy the city by walking and riding bicycles.
“Mayor Nebot belongs to a new generation of bold mayors and governors around the world who are tackling seemingly intractable problems like traffic gridlock and air pollution – and winning,” said Walter Hook, executive director of ITDP, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.
Each year, the Sustainable Transport Award is given to a city that provides an international example for enhancing the livability of its community by reducing transport emissions and accidents, increasing access for bicyclists and pedestrians, or improving the mobility of the poor.
Cities that will receive Honorable Mention at the 2007 Award ceremony for their sustainable transport initiatives include:
Mexico City – for introducing ultra-low sulfur diesel, for continued improvements in vehicle inspection and maintenance, and for the Metrobus BRT corridor
Pereira, Colombia – for opening a BRT system through its city center, the first city in Colombia to emulate the success of TransMilenio in Bogotá
Quito, Ecuador – for efforts to re-establish exclusive bus priority on its Trolebus BRT system, after initially re-opening lanes to cars and taxis
Jakarta, Indonesia – for extending its TransJakarta BRT system from one to three corridors in 2006, modernizing interchanges and improving corridor sidewalks
Beijing, China – for expanding its BRT system and overcoming some operational challenges, significantly increasing ridership
Hangzhou, China – for opening a near-BRT bus priority system complete with improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians
Past Sustainable Transport Award recipients include Myung-Bak Lee, former Mayor of Seoul, Korea and Enrique Peñalosa, former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
The award selection and ceremony are organized by ITDP, Environmental Defense, the US Transportation Research Board Committee on Transportation in Developing Countries, the regional Clean Air Initiatives for Asia, Latin America, and Africa; GTZ and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development.
The Sustainable Transport Award Ceremony and Reception will be held on Monday, January 22 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm in the Palladian Room of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.