New York City, USA
Throughout 2008, the city continued to implement PlaNYC 2030, its comprehensive long-term sustainability vision. The city took 49 acres of road space, traffic lanes and parking spots away from cars and gave that space back to the public for bike lanes, pedestrian areas, and public plazas. Protected on street bike lanes were part of the 140 miles (255 kilometers) of bike lanes implemented. Bike ridership has increased by 35 percent over the past year. Over 98,000 trees were planted, a select bus service was implemented, car free Sundays introduced. As part of its standard operations, the city’s Department of Transportion also recycles 40 percent of its asphalt. Although not successful, the city pushed for congestion charging, a first for a US city and now other cities are considering it.
2009 Honorable Mentions
Beijing made impressive efforts to improve air quality, working on a variety of fronts to make transportation better and cleaner. The city implemented vehicle restrictions for the Olympics that were re-instituted due to popular demand. This restriction, which requires owners to leave their automobiles home one day each week, gets 800,000 vehicles off the streets every day. The government also mandated Euro IV fuel standards. The city also added a new line to the metro system and two new lines for the BRT system in 2008, extending the hours for both. Beijing increased their bus fleet, while decreasing the fleet of government vehicles by 30 percent. One-third of the police fleet is now patrolling using bikes and electric bikes.
After pursuing many high cost, not terribly sustainable transport projects, Istanbul has quickly moved to open Metrobus, a BRT system that now carries 450,000 passengers a day over 43 kilometers of segregated busway. Metrobus was built on expressways, so its travel speed is uncommonly fast at 40 kilometers per hour. This has reduced travel time by 75 percent. The system is also integrated with the underground metro and existing bus services. Other cities in Turkey are looking to this low cost, quickly implemented example as a model.
Mexico City, Mexico
Expansion of Metrobus, Mexico City’s BRT system, improved mobility by 50 percent along the congested Avenue Insurgentes. Metrobus now carries 320,000 passengers a day. Accidents dropped by 30 percent, and the corridor saw a five percent modal shift from private vehicles to public transport. Mexico City also began construction on three more BRT lines, as well as some bike lanes this year. About 1,000 public spaces were revitalized in 2008 as part of a plan to improve 6,000 before 2012. These illustrate Mexico City’s continued efforts to implement, El Plan Verde (“Green Plan”), their broad policy approach to sustainable transport and development.
In January 2008, Milan introduced Ecopass, designed to restrict access to the central Cerchia dei Bastioni area of the city by charging the most heavily polluting vehicles. This is the first urban environmental policy worldwide in the transport sector based on the European Union’s “polluter pays” principle and is an evolution of the London’s congestion charge. Since February 2008, there has been a 19.2 percent traffic reduction within, and an 8 percent reduction outside, the enforcement time. As a result, public transport speed increased by 11.3 percent, passenger ridership increased on public transport by 9.7 percent and in two months there was a 3.9 million euro financial return. Because of this carbon dioxide has decreased by 12 percent during the enforcement period, and particulate matter has decreased by 19 percent.
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