Coordinated by Marie-Pierre Bourzai-Chérif, Regional Coordinator, Latin America and Caribbean Department, AFD, this conference was held on January 21st 2014 at AFD. The speakers were :
- Arnaud Dauphin, Project manager for transport, Agence Française de Développement
- André-Marie Bourlon, Deputy Director, Apur
- Jonathan Turgy, research engineer, Systra
Please find below the summary :
80 % of the Latin American population lives in sprawling metropolitan areas that have invested little in public transport to the benefit of the extension of a rapidly saturated road sector. The authorities in these cities are faced with a twofold paradigm. On the one hand, they must provide a response to the growth and diversity of urban mobility and, on the other hand, “make strategic choices in order to catch up in terms of investment, while planning the future” (M-P. Bourzai-Chérif).
Mobility services fall short of demand
Latin America has fifteen cities with a million inhabitants. These urban areas have complex topographic features and are compartmentalized in terms of populations’ incomes and activities. Mobility is both an environmental and social issue. “The high level of urbanization, the density of cities and the emergence of middle classes are transforming mobility issues” (A. Dauphin). The urban transport sector in Latin America is marked by under-investment, which is exacerbated by the short length of electoral mandates and by bottlenecks caused by the influence of transport lobbies. Consequently, demand for mobility continues to be much higher than supply. However, it should be recognized that the solutions provided in Latin America show a real concern to take account of mobility issues, as well as a strong determination to innovate. The extremely rapid development of BRT networks in Curitiba and Bogotá, and the objective of facilitating access to certain inaccessible neighborhoods in Medellín and Rio de Janeiro via the metrocable, make the Latin American example a source “of lessons for other geographical areas that are beginning their transition from transport approaches to mobility approaches” (M-P. Bourzai-Chérif).
What are the possible models for mobility ?
The central issue is to know whether Latin American countries will opt for a North American model, with increased vehicle ownership and consumption of space, or for a European model that promotes travel density and efficiency. “We can also imagine that the sub-continent will choose its own path, midway between the other two” (A. Dauphin). “The best infrastructure is ultimately infrastructure that we do not need because the city is sufficiently well organized for travel to take place without heavy infrastructure” (A-M. Bourlon). To this end, three approaches would appear to be essential : “Reclaim city centers for all types of population, reintroduce urban quality, social diversity and security” (A-M. Bourlon), and “rethink the way in which peri-urban areas are coordinated on the basis of public transport infrastructure” (J. Turgy).
Promote comprehensive approaches
The aim is to no longer consider infrastructure facilities as being separate from each other and to develop multimodality “via specific systems such as fare integration, or by organizing transport systems in relation to one another as part of the implementation of a continuous and uninterrupted transport chain” (J. Turgy). There is a need to offer a right to transport for all at an affordable price and to promote alternative modes of transport to the private car, in particular by making it difficult to park “in order to take action on mobility and improve the quality of public spaces” (A-M. Bourlon). An urban mobility policy in Latin America also requires a comprehensive approach : “take into account the urban structure of the city, the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, the transport services that already exist, in order to anticipate travel demand” (J. Turgy). Issues related to housing, employment and public spaces need to be taken into account in order to go beyond a simple transport project and fit into a long-term vision of the city. Consequently, this involves getting the actors of mobility to work together on structural projects, scaling financially sustainable transport services adapted to demand and providing the public with “a real culture of mobilized urban planning” (A-M. Bourlon).