New approaches to transportation

Transportation in the developing world is notoriously difficult, especially in urban centers. Lack of planning, rapid urbanization, and overcrowding are some of the many issues residents face on a daily basis. Many existing forms of transportation are inefficient, unsafe, and unsustainable. The following five examples are from cities attempting to create an efficient and affordable transportation system. Read on to learn about the situation in Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Nairobi, and join the discussion below.

 

Victoria Okoye, Lagos Community ManagerKeke, a progressive transport mode with potential, but mixed results

Victoria Okoye, Lagos Community Manager

In March 1998, 500 three-wheeled keke vehicles first appeared on the streets of Lagos. Bright yellow in color, powered by a motorcycle engine, balanced on three thick wheels and covered by a metal half-shell replete with plastic windows, the city's most innovative transport mode was introduced by then Governor Mohammed Buba Marwa. The vehicle came to be known colloquially as keke marwa: Keke being the Hausa word for "tricycle," (Marwa's native tongue); and Marwa being the surname of the governor himself.

At the time, existing urban transport included taxicabs, danfo (bright yellow Volkswagen minibuses) and molue (44-seater buses), as well as the okada, motorcycle taxis that had risen in popularity in the 1980s. Highly patronized and ubiquitous throughout the city's roads, the large-sized vehicles contributed in major part, along with private vehicles, to the city's worsening traffic congestion, known locally as "go slow."

Diversifying urban transport

The keke formed an important complement to these modes: unlike the danfo or molue, the keke was private transport; unlike the okada, the vehicle's outer exterior provided a shell of safety for both driver and passenger. Around the same time the keke were first introduced, the governor placed a citywide ban on okada, banishing the quick, deft, yet dangerous mode of transport. With the minimal protection for passengers (few were provided helmets) and the risky behavior of drivers, accidents and deaths became commonplace. "That motorbike, that okada — it was the fastest way of reducing the population of Nigeria," reflected Sister Mary, a Catholic nun and commuter.

Small in size (fitting three or four passengers with the driver), and powered by an upgraded Vespa motor, keke represented a speedy and protected form of transport. "It's very strong," Sister Mary said of her experience riding keke over the years. "It can go through any flood, and it will get you out of it," she added, referencing a prime concern for commuters during the rainy seasons.

The second iteration of keke, the keke napep, drew its name from the National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP), which was implemented by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003. This time, the intervention was not only focused on an opportunity to improve transport; it was envisioned as both literal and figurative vehicles for youth employment opportunity and poverty reduction among the low-income masses. Painted green and white (Nigeria's national colors) and larger in size, the keke napep had an expanded role from its predecessor.

The strategy for the keke napep was to make it a widely spread form of paratransit to relieve city congestion and build a new avenue for employment. Young men were recruited as drivers who could start earning reliable incomes and enter the formal system; in turn, they would also be providing a much-needed service to the public. By continuing to diversify the city's urban transport services, the government had high hopes of relieving traffic congestion.

The economics of the Keke

There are an estimated 12,000 keke operators in Lagos alone, but an enduring challenge to keke's potential is rooted in the city's existing economic inequalities. The very group targeted for positive impact has enjoyed limited benefits, due to lack of access to finances and collateral to purchase the vehicles that could empower them. As keke have risen in popularity, so too have prices for vehicles, pricing out the lower and no-income groups.

On average, the keke costs N400,000 (about US$2,550) for the vehicle and registration. For youth and low-income earners, getting into the keke business means borrowing the funds necessary for purchasing a new vehicle, and paying it back over time (plus interest) based on operating profits; in the end, going this "hire purchase" route means paying at least N550,000 (US$3,500) before becoming the official owner. On top of this, many keke drivers regularly face harassment and extortion by police.

On the flipside, some do benefit from keke's popularity; for those with the means, keke has turned out to be a lucrative business. For many drivers, some of whom had been previously unemployed, a recent study showed that 86 percent earned, on average, between N2000 to N4000 (US$12 to US$25) daily, and that a third of operators surveyed earned higher incomes that significantly relieved their household burdens (e.g., ability to pay rent and household bills). The more affluent that enter the business are able to buy fleets of keke, hire them out to young drivers, and enjoy immense returns on their investments. In addition, the vehicle's popularity has created demand for local manufacturers, who assemble the vehicles locally for sale across the country.

Lessons learned

An innovative form of transport, the keke represents a progressive government-led strategy to tackle Lagos' urban congestion and economic development. It has proved an innovative and lasting, though imperfect, mode of paratransit. From Lagos, it has spread to almost all parts of the country.

It continues to be a regularly patronized form of transport, but it also represents the tension at play within the country's wider economy, between the rich and the poor. First, as admitted by the NAPEP, one of its greatest drawbacks is the lack of access to finance and collateral for the urban poor. Putting structures in place to guarantee funding and maintain low costs, such as loan schemes and further oversight, may be key to making keke successful in its originally envisaged goals. As well, and as is clear on Lagos' roads, tackling the city's congestion requires a much more progressive reform.

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community ManagerWaiting for a system that works: new approaches to transportation undermine Nairobi's economy

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community Manager

The Kenyan Traffic (Amendment) Act 2012 came into force at the end of last November amid widespread Public Service Vehicle (PSV) worker strikes and scepticism as to how effective it would be.

The objectives of the introduced regulations were to minimize carnage on the roads by imposing steep penalties for those who commit traffic offences or engage in reckless driving. The main targets for the new penalties are the 14-seater PSVs — commonly known as matatus. These mini vans are widely considered to be the main source of Nairobi's traffic delirium, and calls to do something about them have been mounting over time.

Under the new Traffic Act, penalties for infringement of the law vary from 3 months in prison and/or a KShs. 30,000 (Approximately $350) fine for overlapping and driving on the sidewalk, 10 years in prison and/or KShs. 500,000 (a little under $6,000) for driving under the influence, 10 years in prison and/or KShs. 500,000 for unauthorised driving of a PSV and loss of driving license for speeding.

The much-maligned matatus are a popular source of anger and resentment as they are seen to epitomize much of what is wrong with Nairobi. Over the past decade, with growing numbers of private vehicles congesting the capital's streets, matatus have been known to practically climb up walls in order to take advantage of any possible gap during the city's notoriously gridlocked rush hours.

Matatus are, however, also one of the only forms of transportation to get from one part of the city to another and hundreds of thousands of the city's workforce depend on them in order to complete their daily commute to-and-from work. They also provide jobs for thousands of youth who rely on the casual work provided by the matatu industry to get by.

According to James Wamburu, a matatu driver who recently acquired notoriety through his blog, the Traffic Amendment Act "is a good idea whose time has not yet come". Wamburu insists that if the government had included people employed in the matatu industry in the consultation phase, it would have been possible to come up with a more realistic solution to the problem.

Part of the issue, says Wamburu, is that the government has done nothing to encourage matatu owners to employ drivers and conductors permanently, preferring instead to hire them by the day at a fixed rate and without any provision for benefits or insurance. As a result, drivers find themselves desperate to make the money needed to cover the vehicle hire cost and earn a day's wage for them and the conductor.

In theory there are schemes underway to phase out 14-seater matatu completely, with plans in the pipeline to introduce public buses that will comply with safety regulations and be wheelchair-friendly. Whether there will be any move to compensate matatu workers for their loss of employment and matatu owners for the loss of their vehicle remains to be seen.

In the meantime, however, what the situation means is that seeing that the new fines that have been introduced are generally much higher than the matatu drivers and conductors' earnings, it is impossible for them to pay the fine. As a result their options are only to contest the fine (which requires money and a lawyer), serve time for their offence, or bribe the policeman double the old rate, in order for him to overlook the infringement. Given the track record of the police in this country, it appears that the third option will remain the most frequently adopted one. As a result, it is safe to guess that for the time being the new laws will accomplish little more than helping corrupt officials line their pockets and making bigger criminals out of those who are arguably the backbone of the city's economy.

 

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community ManagerIdeas for sustainable transport in Mumbai

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager

Mumbai's millions of commuters rely on a woefully outdated public transportation system. The two-and-only rail lines carry more than 7.24 million people every day. (The New York City Subway system has 24 rail lines through five boroughs on 656 miles of track and carries an average of 4.8 million passengers each weekday; that's a mere 60 percent of the people carried on Mumbai's 265 miles of lines.) The dangerously overcrowded Mumbai locals, while surprisingly fast and frequent, have become increasingly life-threatening. An average of 12 people die every day on the suburban tracks. Any commuter who can afford to buy a car does so, leaving a traffic-tangled mess of cars, rickshaws, taxis, and worn-out busses on the dusty streets. The resulting emissions concerns have reached alarming rates as well.

Mumbai's municipality has responded with a laundry list of half-finished mega projects that will only benefit the top tier of the city. Car-focused solutions such as sealinks and flyovers have become the trend. These initiatives feed into more people buying cars, and the public transport routes remaining at a literal standstill.

In a presentation by Mumbai-based architect and urban planner Trupti Amritwar Vaitla at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, she pointed out that while the population of Mumbai went down by six percent over the past decade, the number of vehicles is growing at 10 percent per annum. "Private vehicles take up 60 percent of the road space and carry just 15 percent of people," she explained. Further proof of the car-centric and elitist transport investments are the flyovers, which carry 75 percent cars, 23 percent taxis, and 2 percent busses. The majority of commuters — and most especially the poor — are being left out of this type of planning.

Bus rapid transit

While many long-term projects are being undertaken and planned, including a monorail and potentially an extension of the very controversial sealink bridge, Rishi Aggarwal, environmental activist and fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think tank in Mumbai, says that there are affordable and doable options that can provide relief in the near-term. He, like many transport experts around the world, champions bus rapid transit (BRT) as a economical solution that has seen great success in Latin America as well as in India. In Mumbai, the decade-long discussion over the innovative bus system has been stalled for various reasons, says Aggarwal, adding the difficulties involved in decision-making with a coalition government. Ahmedabad, on the other hand, has seen great success with its BRT system, which is now being doubled in size. Ahmedabad's implementation was made easier by transforming a green field corridor where land use and density issues were not as challenging as in Mumbai, says Aggarwal.

Improved rickshaw fleets

Another idea for a sustainable transport initiative comes from the city of Rajkot, Gujarat, where India's first auto-rickshaw fleet was launched. G-Auto is India's first city-supported, privately operated fleet auto-rickshaw service, which is managed by the city government in partnership with Nirmal Foundation, a charitable trust. G-Auto was chosen by the World Resources Institute (WRI) as one of the top sustainable transport success stories of 2012. An article on WRI's web site says that rickshaws account for 10-20 percent of trips in India's urban centers, but the three-wheelers are often highly polluting and poorly maintained. "Benefits for passengers include reliable, meter-based services; trained drivers; dial-in, doorstep pickup services; and dependable auto-rickshaw presence at bus terminals, railway stations, and the airport. In terms of broader sustainable transportation policy, G-Auto promotes the use of public transport and reduced reliance on private motor vehicles," says the site.

Mumbai is in need of transport innovations such as Rajkot's fleet service or Ahmedabad's BRTs that can be done quickly and serve the masses. If the government continues to focus on developing roads, flyovers, and sealinks for more and more cars, a public health crisis will soon follow. Sustainable transport is not only a means of helping commuters travel more quickly and easily throughout the city; it is also a moral obligation to hand off a greener planet to future generations.

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community ManagerAcceso a movilidad con sustentabilidad en el DF

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community Manager

The urbanization of Mexico City has not been planned or orderly, making transportation one of the most contentious issues in the city. Since 2006, the Federal District Government has proposed to improve the city's mobility by laying the foundation of an integrated transport policy. Strategies such as the Metrobus lines and a public bicycle program ECOBICI have been transformative, but challenges remain, like providing equal access to the most vulnerable populations, and facilitating transfers between different types of transportation.

Hoy en día el proceso de concentración de la población en las áreas externas de la Ciudad, como respuesta a la concentración humana, industrial, comercial y financiera, ha provocado cambios importantes en los patrones de viajes de la movilidad del D.F.. Mientras que en la década de los ochentas los viajes tenían origen y destino en las mismas Delegaciones, actualmente las distancias por recorrer son más largas e interdegacionales, inclusive hasta los municipios del Estado de México pertenecientes a la Zona Metropolitana. En este contexto, la administración del Gobierno del Distrito Federal desde el 2006 ha implementado diversas estrategias para transformar la movilidad y sentar las bases de una política pública de transporte integral.

El pasado 15 de enero del 2013, se galardonó a la Ciudad de México con el Premio al Transporte Público 2012 del Instituto de Políticas para el Transporte y el Desarrollo, que reconoce ciudades del mundo que se caractericen por su liderazgo en estrategias de transporte sustentable y movilidad urbana. Esta organización internacional en conjunto con el Gobierno del Distrito Federal y la organización EMBARQ, han promovido soluciones de transporte que reduzcan las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, la contaminación ambiental, los tiempos y costos de traslado, para mejorar el desarrollo económico y la calidad de vida en la capital.

Para frenar el uso indiscriminado del automóvil, en el DF se instalaron cuatro líneas del Metro Bus que atraviesan la ciudad en sus cuatro extremos. Es un sistema de autobuses que cuenta con carriles exclusivos y estaciones de acceso sistematizadas. Bajo este sistema se alcanza la velocidad y comodidad del metro, al tiempo que ofrece un sistema de transporte más flexible y de bajo costo como el de los autobuses convencionales pero con alta tecnología y servicio. Así mismo, ofrece importantes beneficios ambientales al reducir las emisiones de gases efecto invernadero y la contaminación ambiental debido al tipo de combustible que utiliza.

Por su parte, una de las estrategias más prácticas para reducir las emisiones de CO2 ha sido el fomento del uso dela bicicleta y el desarrollo de calles más seguras para el peatón en el centro de la Ciudad. Se han construido caminos para peatones, corredores, banquetas, reubicación de parque vehicular para rescatar los espacios para el flujo de autobuses y peatones, además de implementar el programa de bicicleta pública ECOBICI. Con una red de 90 cicloestaciones y 1,200 bicicletas, el sistema de transporte ECOBICI da servicio a 5 colonias de la Zona Centro con un costo anual de $300 pesos. Este medio de transporte facilita la movilidad en distancias cortas en donde el uso del vehículo sería excesivo.

De acuerdo a EMBARQ, en la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México se realizan 49 millones de viajes diarios, el 53 por ciento de ellos en el transporte público y el 17 por ciento en vehículos particulares; la implementación de estas estrategias de transporte y movilidad sustentable contribuye a mejorar la movilidad en la tercera megalópolis a nivel mundial. No obstante, con la nueva administración del gobierno local en la capital, es necesario que la continuidad de las políticas públicas sean más agresivas a fin de brindar a la ciudadanía mejores opciones de transporte. Uno de los grandes retos, y que es resentido por la población más vulnerable, es el integrar los diversos sistemas de transporte para que sea menos costoso y más fácil a los usuarios de realizar las transferencias durante los viajes.

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community ManagerThe Complexo do Alemão Cable Car: An example of inclusion and transformation

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager

The Complexo do Alemão is a agglomeration of several low-income neighborhoods in the North Zone of Rio, with over 90,000 residents. The Complexo is known for its precarious housing, its lack of urban and social infrastructure, and its crime-related past. Since late 2010, however, the Complexo has benefited from several interventions by the police and military; they expelled most of the drug trafficking groups in the area, resulting in a significant drop in crime and violence.

Thanks to the dislodging of the crime groups, the Complexo do Alemão's reality is gradually changing for the better. In conjunction with these efforts, the federal, state, and local governments have promoted several investments to improve the quality of life of the residents, especially with regard to mobility and social services. One of the most relevant investments is changing the face of the Complexo do Alemão: the new cable car was opened in July 2011 in order to improve the mobility and accessibility of its dwellers.

The cable car was built as a part of the federal government's Growth and Development Program (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento), in partnership with the State Government of Rio de Janeiro. The cable car has six main stations (Bonsucesso, Adeus, Baiana, Alemão, Itararé/Alvorada, and Palmeiras) and is linked to the city's train system. Beyond its function as a transport system, the cable car has several social service centers, including centers for youth integration and the promotion of culture.

This innovative, non-motorized system is the first of its kind in Brazil. It is 3.5km long and has 152 cars, with a capacity of 10 passengers. The trip from the first station (Bonsucesso) to the last one (Palmeiras) lasts about 16 minutes — a significant improvement for residents who previously had to walk for hours to reach the rest of the city's transportation routes. The cable car is also quite affordable: registered residents get two free daily passes, and extra tickets are R$ 1,00 ($0.50) per trip.

The cable car has become an essential solution for many people who previously faced accessibility and security issues when trying to get around their neighborhood. The cable car is also becoming a positive reference within the community, and is creating income opportunities, as well as bringing tourism and visibility to the neighborhood. Hopefully in the future more of these investments can be brought to other low-income neighborhoods, to continue the efforts of inclusion and transformation of Rio's favelas.

I invite you to check this week's blog on Urban Mobility in Rio to explore more of the important efforts the city is undertaking to improve transportation and mobility.

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community ManagerTeleférico do Complexo do Alemão: Um exemplo de inclusão, acessibilidade e transformação

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager

O Complexo do Alemão é um conjunto de favelas da Zona Norte do Rio de Janeiro onde moram em torno de 90.000 pessoas. O bairro é conhecido pela sua precariedade e carência de equipamentos urbanos e sociais. Além de suas carências básicas, o Complexo do Alemão tem sido vitima do crime organizado e no passado foi uma das áreas de maior violência da cidade. A partir do final de 2010, o complexo vivenciou uma das maiores operações de pacificação por parte da policia e das forcas armadas, expulsando facções criminosas e diminuindo drasticamente os crimes da área.

A partir dos esforços de pacificação, a realidade do Complexo do Alemão está mudando positivamente. Acompanha o processo de pacificação uma serie de grandes investimentos públicos que procuram melhorar as condições de vida de seus moradores, especialmente no referente ao aceso a mobilidade e serviços sociais. Um dos equipamentos que está transformando ao Complexo do Alemão é seu novo teleférico inaugurado em julho de 2011 com o intuito de facilitar a locomoção dos moradores entre as favelas do complexo.

O teleférico foi construído como parte das obras do Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, do Governo Federal em parceria com o Governo do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. O equipamento está integrado ao sistema de transporte ferroviário e tem seis estações - Bonsucesso, Adeus, Baiana, Alemão, Itararé/Alvorada e Palmeiras. Além de cumprir sua função como um sistema de transporte, o teleférico também destina espaços para equipamentos de inserção social, como centros culturais, da juventude e de assistência social.

O novo e inovador sistema de transporte não motorizado é o primeiro do Brasil. Ele tem 3,5km de extensão e 152 gôndolas, com capacidade para transportar 10 passageiros cada uma (sendo oito sentados e dois em pé). A viagem da primeira estação (Bonsucesso) à última (Palmeiras) tem duração de 16 minutos. Cada morador do complexo que esteja cadastrado terá direito a duas passagens gratuitas diárias (uma de ida e outra de volta), não acumulativas. O cadastro é feito pela RioCard por meio de apresentação de CPF e comprovante de residência. As demais passagens tem um custo de R$ 1,00 cada uma.

O teleférico está virando uma solução para um grande número de moradores do complexo que no passado tenham muitos problemas de acessibilidade e segurança para transitar dentro de seu próprio bairro. Além de ser um projeto inovador, ele está se tornando numa referência positiva para a comunidade. Também está promovendo segurança, oportunidades de emprego e renda, turismo e visibilidade para a comunidade. Tomara este tipo de investimentos sejam ampliados a um grande número de bairros para continuar os esforços do governo para assegurar a inclusão e transformação das favelas cariocas.

Convido vocês a dar uma olhada ao blog desta semana sobre Mobilidade Urbana no Rio para conhecer outros avanços importantes da cidade na área de transporte e mobilidade.

Comments

Just last month, Mexico City won an important international award for Sustainable Transportation. In 2012 alone, the city implemented relevant upgrades to its transportation network, which have contributed to improve the quality of life of its dwellers and drastically improve the pollution levels. Some of the recent key improvements include the implementation of the Metro’s 12th line and an additional Metrobus line. Mexico DF has also implemented an efficient parking program (EcoParq) and a very successful public bicycle system (Ecobici), one of the most successful in Latin America.

Maybe Maria Fernanda can expand on the key aspects of Mexico City’s non-motorized alternatives, like the bicycle program. Why has the initiative been so successful, and besides expanding it, what are its key challenges ahead? Is this option really contributing to improve the life of the poorest populations? Looking forward to learn more about your point of view...

Catalina, thanks for your comments. All your questions are very accurate with respect to the contribution of the Ecobici program to the wellbeing of the poorest population in DF. Indeed, the Ecobici program is very effective in order to reduce pollution in Mexico City, and connecting different schemes of transportations. The time allow for users from its departure point to the destination is 30 minutes, so the distances are not as long. In this sense, the Ecobici helps to connect to a bus station, the metro station or to get to nearby destinations. So it helps to improve mobility but there is not oficial information about the impact on the most vulnerable. Ecobici was first established at the main center of Mexico City and expanded to the close suburbs where there are lot of labor connections within this districts. The Municipalities where the Ecobici works are Miguel Hidalgo and Cuahutémoc, so one of the challenges is the expansion of this alternative of transportation to the municipalities where infrastructure is limited and where population is much more isolated as in Tlalpan, Xochimilco and Cuajimalpa; specially to the vulnerable suburbs where people depends on the service of buses which use are in great demand and the service quality is very low.
Moreover, in order to have acces to the Ecobici program you need to register a credit or debit card in the system and pay an amount of $25 us dollars a year, this in order to secure the infrastructure of the ECOBICI from robbery. In spite the cost per year is not very significant, the poorest people does not have access to financial markets in order to own a credit or debit card. In my opinion, if we think in the most vulnerable people, other transportation alternatives are more easily accessible, as the bus.

Maria Fernanda these are super useful clarifications. Now I can better understand the positive and the negative aspects of the Ecobici. The initiative is still innovative, especially in terms of coverage and in terms of how it is intended to link people with other means of transportation. On the other hand, you are right; the initiative is in fact exclusive, and not very useful to the poorest populations who don’t have credit history/bank accounts. Hopefully in the nearby future there will be alternative ways to secure bicycle use without credit/debit card information.

Catalina,
I had the opportunity to sit in one of the cable cars at the World Urban Forum (WUF) (http://www.unhabitat.org/categories.asp?catid=672) in Naples last year where they were being promoted as the future of urban public transport. I was in fact hoping to find something similar to report on in the Nairobi context but unfortunately beyond the light railway, a project that is yet to be completed, there was nothing as exciting to report on (hence the slightly pessimistic article on the new Traffic Amendment Act).
I was looking on the WUF page just now and found an interesting comment on the cable car made by a Brazilian called Thayna' Bonin (http://www.worldurbanforum.org/member/thayna-bonin). In her comment (http://www.worldurbanforum.org/equity-prosperity-of-cities/mobility-and-...) Thayna writes that the cable car is supposed to carry 45,000 passengers per day but that it is in fact underutilized, carrying only about 9,000 people instead. Thayna goes on to ask whether "the cable car is truly functional in terms of aid to the displacement of residents or is it just being used by visitors and the curious?". Thayna's comment goes on for a bit but I think essentially what she is saying is that she believes that the community was not adequately consulted at the diagnostic phase of the project and that as a result they do not feel proper ownership of it.
What is your experience of this? Have you found that the project has been well received in the communities it is serving or is it simply a means to raise awareness and visibility of those areas without fully benefitting the local residents?

Katy Fentress
URB.IM - Nairobi Community Manager
@whatktdoes

Kathy, thanks for all these interesting comments! Specifically on the Complexo de Alemao’s cable car, let’s not forget it was inaugurated in July 2011. The remaining part of 2011 was considered a pilot/test phase, which included the training of the cable car personnel and the gradual expansion of the cable car’s working hours. So in real terms, the cable car has been in full operation for exactly one year. Currently, the average number of daily passengers is 15,000 (with peaks reaching up to 20,000); it was never expected that the cable car should reach its maximum capacity in a year, as a gradual expansion of passenger load is key to ensure its adequate functioning.

The public’s reaction to the cable car, including a vast majority of local residents (who are the main users of the cable car) has been extremely positive, but it is inevitable that there are contesting points of view, as Thayna’s opinion. She admits that visitors and the curious are starting to visit the Complexo and to use its cable car. The Complexo is far away from Rio’s famous beaches and attractions, so the fact that more visitors are actually taking the time to visit what was known as one of Rio’s most deprived and violent areas, is actually a wonderful sign of improvement; and in my opinion, the ones that benefit the most out of this positive image, are the local residents. The city of Rio is investing more resources in additional urban and social interventions within the Complexo, in order to fully upgrade the area.

Moving beyond the cable cars, I think you will find useful to read Mario Duran’s blog on urban mobility in Rio to learn all the efforts undertaken by the city to consolidate a network of public transportation, which includes the metro, the BRT and a bike system. http://urb.im/blog/urbimedge/130204

Victoria, there seem to be many similarities between the Lagos' keke and Mumbai's rickshaws, but one of the biggest issues here is the polluting factor. You don't mention this, and I wonder if this is part of the discussion as the city moves forward with expanding the number of kekes. India mandated an upgrading of the rickshaw engines a few years back, but many of them still operate with the old and highly polluting one.

In Delhi, they have been experimenting with solar-powered rickshaws: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/article-2108974/Ray-sunshine-green-.... The plan is to start with 1,000 and increase that up to 10,000 with plans for subsidies by the state. Has anything like this been discussed in Lagos?

Also, I'm wonder what the situation is with larger infrastructure initiatives in Lagos. You mentioned a bus system, but have BRTs been discussed or a train system? In other words, where are the kekes taking people to? Main transportation networks, or are they acting as door-to-door transit?

HI Carlin - great points.

As you mentioned, pollution is an issue for the keke, but also for most of the forms of transport in Lagos - from regular taxi, to the okada, to the various buses, and the private transport vehicles, also. There's also a huge market in Lagos for secondhand vehicles, which doesn't help this emissions factor.

In recent years, there has been an interesting push toward more progressive forms of urban transit. For example, there's an existing commercial bus as well as a bus-rapid transit (BRT) system operating as well. The BRT opened in 2008, and it runs about 22 kilometers (about 5.5 miles). That said, one of the challenges associated with the BRT system has been in maintenance.

This idea of solar-powered rickshaws looks exciting, thanks for sharing this! It would be great to see a similar initiative in Lagos, but so far, nothing like this yet.

Carlin, as in Mexico, ITDP works in India in order to promote non-motorized transport beyond bicycles and walking trips, including rickshaws. According to this organization, a highlight of this work has been the program which modernized the cycle-rickshaw in India in 2000; the new project of bicycle taxis changed the perception of people of the vehicle as a main mean of transport making look the bicycle as a good and viable alternative, and of course much more economic. In Mexico City's downtown exists bicycle taxis as well, which takes people to nearby destinations, however they get stuck in the middle of vehicular traffic; a rail confined for this type of transport could be an alternative.

I just wanted to bring your attention to the car- free days that are being organized in several parts of the world like in Bogota, Jakarta and various European cities. The car-free days aim at promoting the use of non-motorized methods of transportation, like mass transit, cycling and walking; they also aim at generating awareness towards pollution and congestion generated from cars.

Currently, Bogota holds the world's largest car-free weekday event covering the entire municipality. Its first car-free day was held in February 2000 and became institutionalized through a public referendum so it can take place annually on the first Thursday of February.

Bogota had its latest car-free day last Thursday February 7, 2013. It was reported that more than 1,2 million cars were "switched off" for 13 hours in order to make room for biking, walking and using mass transportation. Bogota’s Mayor already announced a consultation process to promote the expansion of car-free days in the city. Although not a long lasting solution to transportation, it is an interesting initiative to generate public awareness towards alternative means of transportation.

Estimado Armando, gracias por tan valiosa contribución. La iniciativa de Aventona tiene tanto efectos directo como externalidades. Los pasajeros pueden compartir el costo de los insumos del transporte, como la gasolina, el pago de peaje; y entre las externalidades se encuentra menos contaminación, cuidado del ambiente, y menor tráfico vehicular. Así mismo, puede dar acceso a diferentes medios de transporte a gente vulnerable que no tiene acceso. Sin embargo, me pregunto si el contexto de inseguridad por la delincuencia no es un factor que impide que la gente tenga confianza para compartir su auto con gente desconocida, ¿hay algún medio de verificar qué gente es la que adquiere el servicio? Y por otro lado, nos podrías compartir cuáles han sido las experiencias para brindar mayor movilidad dentro de la Ciudad de México. Gracias por presentarnos esta propuesta y espero que podamos seguir teniendo futuras discusiones.

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