To date, ridership is up, with 164 million users since Metrobus began operating. Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants to see nine more such corridors installed before the end of his term. Much cheaper than subway construction, these new lines will move as many as 1.7 million passengers daily, providing a break for public transit users, motorists and the city's air quality.And here's the money shot:
In fact, Ebrard plans to spend about $2.5 billion on improving public transit, adding a new subway line and lengthening the Insurgentes dedicated bus lane. He is going to take on the rest of the city's microbus owners as well.
Along with buying new large buses and junking the aging fleet of microbuses and vans, "We want to convince them to participate in companies like the Metrobus," said Armando Quintero, the city's Secretary of Transport and Roads. "Instead of investing in infrastructure for private vehicles, we are going to invest in collective transport, so that it is no longer a poor method of transport for the poor."
While traffic flow has actually improved, Metrobus moves much faster than the rest of the traffic (emphasis mine, UDC) -- some 250,000 people use the Metrobus every day, and a journey that used to take over two hours is now down to 58 minutes. As a result of both faster traffic and speedier bus transit, the city's famously contaminated air is spared 35,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.Meanwhile, Chile's TranSantiago (sp.) stumbled at the gates (via Embarq's The City Fix):
However, the system has another innovative aspect to it: a combination of public and private ownership.
Metrobus director Guillermo Calderon knew he'd have a major fight on his hands if he just kicked the microbus owners off the street. "It would have gone against the politics of the city government and brought about major social problems," he said. "Insurgentes Avenue would have been totally blocked in protest."
Since a previous study of transit use on the avenue showed that about 7 out of every 10 persons used private collective transport, "we came up with an innovative scheme, integrating them into the business," he said.
While Calderon deals with management and planning, a consortium of two entities actually owns the system: the city-run Passenger Transport Network, or RTP, and a new privately-owned company called Corridor Insurgentes, S.A., or CISA.
CISA is made up of the 262 former microbus owners who had previously been offering service on Insurgentes.
“It is not common for a president to stand before the nation and say ‘Things haven’t gone well,” Michele Bachelet, Chile’s President, said in March of this year. “But that is exactly what I want to say in the case of Transantiago. The inhabitants of Santiago, especially the poorest deserve an apology.”Why? (IndioSign would appreciate these notes):
Conceived more than six years ago, TranSantiago was nothing less than a complete overhaul of Santiago’s public transit system with a particular focus on the buses that clogged the city’s streets. In broad strokes, Santiago took old, polluting buses off the streets, partially replaced them with new, clean buses, and reorganized bus routes to maximize the efficiency of the system as a whole. The whole purpose was to reduce system costs and, very specially, to reduce air pollution, a major problem due to thermal inversion in the winter months.
After six years of planning, the new system was launched in early February of this year. The results have been far from impressive: service coverage declined, waiting times increased, reliability dropped, and to top things off, buses and trains were overcrowded, bursting beyond capacity, and causing all sorts of delays. The horrendous service resulted in strong public protests, and even rioting in some areas of the city. The system accomplished exactly the opposite that it was intended for, as car ownership and car use rapidly increased as a solution to meet their commuting needs (see ad by a car dealer).
Some have come away from the TranSantiago experience thinking that large and chaotic bus systems like Santiago’s cannot be fixed without creating an even bigger mess. I want to state unequivocally that this is simply not true. TranSantiago was the most ambitious transport modernization project in a developing city that was carried out in the last decade. The concept was good, but as the adage goes, the devil is in the details. During the development stages, important design components were overlooked. For example, there were not enough bus-exclusive lanes. Low-capacity bus stops were created instead of high-capacity bus stations. And the payment system required commuters to pay once they board, not when they entered the stations. All of these combined to produce overwhelming inefficiencies, with the commuter bearing the brunt of the burden. What we should take away from TranSantiago is that a project of such a massive scale demands a comprehensive design and implementation process, with all stake holders directly involved and in constant communication (emphasis mine -UDC). Quality of service should not be secondary to economic and environmental considerations. At least the average existing service conditions (coverage, total travel time) should be maintained.
Meanwhile, we're making baby steps with Hapi Buses.
from Wikimedia Commons