Unlike the last presidential candidate who built an overlapping highway to favor his real estate development projects (and fortunately lost), architect Jaime Lerner conceived and implemented an innovative and cost-effective master plan to alleviate Curitiba's automobile traffic; and fortunately served three terms as a mayor of Curitiba in Brazil and two terms as governor of the state of Parana, Brazil. Since he took office in 1971, Curitiba has seen a development that favored both its people and the environment.
With a population of 2.2 million, 75% of Curitibanos use, perhaps one of the best transit systems known to man, the Bus Rapid Transit or the "Speedybus." It was developed after Lerner discovered that a bus system costs a fraction against subways and light railway systems. Ratio of cost per kilometer was estimated to be $100M: $20M: $2M for subway or metro, light railway and bus respectively.
This is not your run of the mill, road-raged driven buses you see in Metro Manila. In fact, it almost looks like a train and travels just as fast with designated platforms. Its clear-tube platforms allows for pre-boarding payment which makes stops no longer than 20 seconds. It is also equipped with very wide doors, wheelchair lifts and ramps that extend well enough to shelter passengers as they step into the platforms. Not too far from these platforms or terminals are convenience stores and post offices.
The Speedybus will take an exclusive x-shaped route primarily to serve two corridors from north to south and east to west. These linear boulevards which the BRT traverses is zoned for taller buildings to ensure a short walking distance to and from their offices or homes and the BRT.
The increasing price of oil has nudged a number of people to use the BRT and some of them attest to having had spent a tenth of what they used to spend on gas and traveling time cut to more than half.
10 private bus companies are commissioned to run the BRT and are paid by the distance traveled to reduce bottlenecks. After a decade, the city will use these buses to more viable ventures like mobile schools.
With a deployment of 1,100 buses per day, the BRT serves 1,300,000 passengers a day or approximately 36,000 passengers per hour. A single fare costs $40 cents.
The city of Sao Paolo has tried to implement a BRT three times but failed because in coming up with this idea, three main factors were considered essential - land zoning, roads systems, and mass transportation.
In one of Jaime Lerner's interview published online, he says:
Many times I was asked, "What is a process of changing?" After those 32 years, I can say to make change, a real change, in a city -- or in a state, or anywhere -- you have to have political will, solidaristic view and an equation of co-responsibility. And when you have an equation of co-responsibility, when people understand the ideas, everyone, they know how to share it.He also shares on CNN that "Every city can improve its quality of life in less than three years. No matter the scale of the city, no matter the financial conditions."
And that is, fellow countrymen, the long term solution to a siren (wang-wang) free streets in the Philippines.