Exclusive Bus Lanes Speed Things Up in Buenos Aires

A new system of exclusive lanes for bus rapid transit appears to be benefiting public transport passengers and bus drivers in the most congested part of the centre of the Argentine capital.

Although there are as yet no studies on its impact, users interviewed by IPS said the new Metrobus on 9 de Julio Avenue, the second widest thoroughfare in the world at 140 metres and 14 lanes wide, delivers faster journeys, with fewer stops and for the same fare.

Built in just six months, the system of exclusive lanes and stops for 10 bus lines began to operate on Jul. 24. The project was controversial because it involved removing small plazas and transplanting nearly 1,500 trees. Critics claimed that quick journeys over that stretch were already available on the subway, which meant the Metrobus was redundant.

The bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor is 3.5 km long, stretching from the ground-level railway stations of Retiro, north of the city, and Constitución, to the south, which connect with the subway lines.

But the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, the national Transport Secretariat and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP, an NGO) stress that different groups of people use each of these systems.

A survey by the Transport Secretariat found that 89 percent of people who travel in the metropolitan area make their journey as a single stretch. And those who choose the cheapest option say the Metrobus is “all gain.”

They arrive in the city centre by bus, from their urban neighbourhoods or from the suburbs, and remain on board the same vehicle until reaching their destination.

The new Metrobus, on the avenue where the Obelisk monument, a city centre landmark, is located, now concentrates the six bus lines that used to mingle with the cars and taxis on the avenue, and another four lines that used to move at snail’s pace on the narrow streets on either side of 9 de Julio.

Now the 10 bus lines run down the centre of the avenue, carrying around 200,000 passengers a day. The narrow side streets have been cleared of bus traffic and are in the process of being pedestrianised, and air pollution has been reduced.

Braking and acceleration have been minimised, increasing fuel efficiency and generating lower volumes of the greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming.

Source: Marcela Valente | Rebelion.Org