With around 2.8 million inhabitants in the city itself and almost 14 million people in the wider area, Buenos Aires is the largest urban region in South America. In order to combat growing transport pressure, the city launched a ‘plan for sustainable mobility’ that couples public and private investments with environmental awareness programmes.
Sustainable mobility: the Bus Rapid Transit and the Ecobus
Given that the city’s 2.8 million residents are joined by four million commuters and tourists every day, the focus of the plan was to improve Buenos Aires traffic flows. This is the aim of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, launched in 2011. The BRT is a high-performance public bus service that combines bus lanes with elevated, well-lit, GPS-equipped bus stops, connecting several major transport arteries and benefitting up to one million commuters every day.
The year 2013 was something of a milestone for sustainable transport planning, when several lanes of 9 de Julio Avenue – the city’s main artery – were reserved exclusively for bus services, having previously been accessible to private vehicles. The results speak for themselves. The Metrobus corridor on the 9 de Julio Avenue has cut travel times in half for 200,000 daily commuters, with an equivalent CO2 reduction of 5,612 tonnes per year.
The BRT service is currently available through four corridors on the city’s biggest streets. The last of these was launched in June 2015 and is the first ever service to connect Buenos Aires with areas in the outskirts of the city. The sustainable mobility plan is also helping to implement the Priority Routes programme, which redirects buses to wider avenues and private vehicles to side streets to optimise traffic flows.
In order to continually reduce emissions, Buenos Aires has also followed the example of cities like New York, Tokyo and Madrid and launched the Ecobus initiative, which promotes the use of hybrid electric buses made in Argentina.
EcoBici programme: 140 kilometres by bike
Another cornerstone of the plan for sustainable mobility is the EcoBici programme, which promotes the use of bicycles throughout the city. So far, Buenos Aires has created 140 kilometres of cycle paths, while the City Bike project has set up 160 stations boasting 3,000 bikes for use free of charge around the clock.
The city’s plan for sustainable mobility has set standards around the globe and helped Buenos Aires to win the Sustainable Transport Award in New York in 2014. The city received this international honour for its improvements to urban mobility, reduced CO2 emissions and enhanced safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The award was received by Buenos Aires Secretary of Transportation Guillermo Dietrich, who said that the success of Buenos Aires proves that “you can dream of a sustainable city”.
Buenos Aires goes green – by 2030
Next, Buenos Aires is trying to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. The uptake of electric vehicles is key to drastically reducing emissions and illustrates the city’s commitment to embracing new technologies, promoting clean mobility and enhancing respect for the environment through awareness raising and challenging perceptions.
The plan’s road map is strongly reminiscent of the GoGreen programme from Deutsche Post DHL. The world’s leading mail and logistics group officially launched its GoGreen programme in 2007, making it the first logistics company in the world to set a measureable climate protection target. By 2020, the Group intends to improve its CO2 emissions by 30% compared to base levels from 2007. The GoGreen environmental programme is a permanent part of the company’s strategy, the results of which are reflected in reductions in energy, paper and fuel consumption, as well as in investments in innovative technologies.