September 01, 2002

Green Fund Switches to Sustainable Transport

Lima’s New Direction

As the nation of Peru itself enjoys a new democratic beginning, a new sustainable transport initiative dawns in Lima. The proposed “Public Transport Improvement Programme”, will be a US$ 9 million Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative under the supervision of the World Bank. Unlike the GEF’s previous emphasis on technology, the Lima project components look to place the quality of transport service at the forefront.

Lima’s transport future has not always looked so bright. Several decades of grandiose planning has produced little implementation and in some cases a few expensive mistakes. The city’s unused “Tren Eléctrico” (Electric Train) stands as a testament of technology over common sense.

An estimated $300 million was spent from 1986 through 1999 to build and equip the first 9.8 kilometres of a planned 41-kilometre system. High costs, poor location, and low passenger estimates meant that the project was stopped, but the continued maintenance of the mothballed system is still a costly burden.

In the 1990s, poor coordination between the local and national governments kept many plans from moving forward. At the same time, transport deregulation resulted in the public transport fleet increasing 350% from 10,500 vehicles in 1990 to over 46,000 by 1998. The “new” vehicles were hardly new with the average fleet age being 18 years for buses, 15 years for minibuses and 11 years for “Combis” (low-capacity buses).

The taxi fleet also grew with over 100,000 units now plying their trade on Lima’s streets. Additionally, the mass import of used vehicles, primarily from Europe and Japan, caused an explosion in the private vehicle fleet, along with the resulting levels of intense congestion and contamination.

The new GEF project has been the product of a wide base of cooperation of local and national groups. The Ministry of Transport, the municipalities of Lima and Callao, the Environmental Agency, multi-lateral organizations and local NGOs have all worked together in developing and promoting the project. These groups elected the National Environmental Fund (FONAM) to formally manage and direct the overall initiative.

The GEF has awarded US$ 350,000 to Lima for the initial project development phase, which is on-going at this time. FONAM expects to start execution of the full project in 2003, with a total contribution from the GEF currently envisaged to be US$ 9 million. Specifically, the project includes the following components:

  • Study to determine how to scrap older buses, and the development of a revolving fund for this purpose
  • Strategy to attract commuters back to public transit systems
  • Improvements in bicycle infrastructure (cycle ways, parking, etc.)
  • Development of a bicycle promotional campaign, including focus groups with bicycle users and other residents
  • Re-activation of micro-credits for bicycle purchase
  • Improvements in pedestrian infrastructure, including landscaping to make pedestrian areas more attractive
  • Institutional strengthening with national and local agencies and organizations.

Additionally, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are joining forces to finance a complementary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the city. Over 40 kilometres of exclusive busways are envisioned within a funding package of approximately US$ 120 million, with the World Bank, IDB and the municipality each contributing approximately US$ 40 million.

While these projects do not directly challenge the growing presence of private automobiles in Lima, they do include the key elements to lead to increased mobility and accessibility for the city’s low-income majority. Perhaps most importantly the Lima GEF project has initiated a participatory process in which the city’s gravest problems of pollution, social exclusion and the lack of access to employment and services can be publicly addressed.

Clearing the Air in Santiago

Santiago, Chile is taking direct aim at its infamous smog-laden skies and air quality health alerts. Like Lima’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) project, Santiago’s efforts are directed towards promoting non-motorised and public transport modes while attempting to rationalise the growing use of the private automobile. Also like Lima, the World Bank’s transport team is supervising the effort.

The “Air Quality and Sustainable Transport for Santiago” project is closely linked to the Santiago Urban Transport Plan that hopes to re-shape the face of the city over the next decade. The Inter-Ministerial Secretariat on Transport Planning (SECTRA) is directing the project’s initial studies, which are now underway.

The project development work is expected to continue until November after which the request will be processed for an estimated US$5 million in GEF funds. The total project investment is estimated to be US$ 11.8 million.

To facilitate greater public participation in the process, SECTRA has formed a Work Group consisting of two leading citizen-based organizations, “Ciudad Viva” (Living City) and the “Movimiento de los Furiosos Ciclistas” (the Movement of Furious Cyclists), as well as the National Commission on Transit Safety and the municipalities of Ñuñoa, Providencia and Santiago. In March and April, SECTRA chose the consultants for the project as well as issued terms of reference for the initial studies. The idea of public participation in a project of this magnitude is relatively novel in Chile, and thus the activity is of even broader interest.

The project’s specific work plan includes the following components:

Bicycle Use

SECTRA estimates that the share of trips by bicycle can be increased from 1.6% today to 5.8% by creating a city-wide bicycle network. The Santiago Urban Transport Plan calls for the construction of 1,000 kilometres of cycle ways. The project will focus on the development of a bicycle network in three of Santiago’s inner districts, along with a related bicycle promotional campaign to encourage bicycle use for urban travel.

Public Transport

Through the GEF, an evaluation of hybrid-electric bus technology is being conducted along with a study comparing the environmental benefits of various mass transit options such as light rail, articulated buses and technologies for cleaner buses. Also, the study is aimed at ensuring that the environmental variable is incorporated in the new route concession specifications and criteria for selecting operators.

Moreover, complementary studies by SECTRA with partial funding support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will look at other issues, in preparation of the large-scale reconcessioning of Santiago’s bus services.

Land-Use Incentives to Reduce Car Use

A study is underway to understand how to operationalise the linkage between land-use patterns and the reduction in private auto use. The project will particularly examine the trip reduction benefits to be gained from the densification of some inner districts, especially with regard to making use of brownfield space.

Road Pricing

Another study will examine how to implement a road pricing scheme in Santiago, according to which motorists would pay a charge when entering the congested areas of the city.

Travel Blending

Travel Blending is a social marketing technique originally developed in Australia by the consulting firm of Steer Davies Gleave. The idea is to work directly with households by having individuals complete seven-day travel diaries. A program facilitator reviews the diary and makes suggestions on travel alternatives (e.g., public transport, bicycle use, etc.) that the person agrees to try for another seven-day period.

The initial Travel Blending experiment in Santiago produced an astonishing 25% reduction in private auto use amongst participating families.

Student Travel

An estimated 35% of trips in Santiago are related to getting students to and from school. This component aims at rationalizing the location of schools in order to reduce trip lengths and promote modal shift. This is all the more relevant as the Government decided to implement the “full-day-at-school” policy which will raise school-related peak travel demand, virtually duplicate the needs for schools and generate intensive school building programs in the coming years.

For more information:

Ciudad Viva

Inter-Ministerial Secretariat on Transport Planning (SECTRA)

World Bank Transport Programme


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