Month: December 2009


Trolleys may return to the streets of Curitiba

Bondes podem voltar a circular em Curitiba. Parana Online, July 3, 2009.

Electric trolleys that plied the streets of Curitiba in the first half of the 20th Century may return to carry passengers in the downtown area. A city project aims to install a new streetcar line from Passeio P?blico to Pra?a Eufr?sio Correia, along Riachuelo, Bar?o do Rio Branco, Conselheiro Laurindo and XV de Novembro Streets.

This urban tourist attraction and cultural nostalgia project was developed by the Curitiba Institute for Urban Research and Planning (IPPUC) and forms part of the downtown revitalization work begun in 2005.

The return of trolleys to the downtown streets will be managed as a public-private partnership. “As with the revitalization of City Hall, the city government will not fund this out of the general budget, which is primarily dedicated to social programs,” said the Deputy Mayor for Special Projects, Maur?cio S? de Ferrante. “The proposal could be a big tourist draw and is environmentally correct, since the trolley is electric. We are currently in discussions with potential sponsors.”

The service to be offered by the Tourist Trolley would not compete with the regular mass transit system. It will allow passengers to get on and off along the way and will have a separate fare. IPPUC’s expectation is that the trolley will be more of a catalyst for economic development in the area, along the axis formed by Bar?o do Rio Branco and Riachuelo Streets.

Tourists approve

In 2007 IPPUC conducted a survey of tourists who had visited the city. They interviewed 1785 people, of whom 95.6% said they would use a tourist trolley. When asked why they would ride, 52.7% of those interviewed said they would use it to explore the city and out of curiosity.

Another 24.7% said they would use it to explore Downtown, get to know the city and see the tourist attractions, and 14.1% would choose the Tourist Trolley for the opportunity to relive the past and for nostalgia. Interviews were conducted in nine locations, such as the airport, bus station and city parks, and with passengers on the Tourist Line.

The planned trolley route can be seen on the map below:


Coming soon to Bamako: a minibus ring and a busway

Lanes will be set aside for these mass transit modes in order to decrease congestion downtown.

Circulation ? Bamako : BIENT?T UN ANNEAU SOTRAMA ET UN COULOIR BUS. L. DIARRA, May 7, 2008.

The scene takes place in the area around the Finance Ministry. An argument breaks out between a driver and a motorcyclist. The two men come to blows after having exchanged harsh words. Police were forced to separate the two combatants. When a fight breaks out in the middle of traffic, the causes are not hard to guess. Lack of respect for the traffic rules brings about an angry reaction from others, and the gloves come off.

In a few months this kind of scene, today so common in the streets of the capital, should be just a bad memory for Bamakois. A new traffic plan named “Minibus Ring and Busway on the Boulevard du Peuple” is being prepared under the Transportation Sector Project Phase 2 (PST2). This ambitious project, which will be completed over the next four years, has a budget of 52.5 billion CFA francs [$114 million US], jointly financed by the World Bank and the government of Mali.

The plan was to the media by the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation last week in the conference room of DFA Communication. The press conference was led by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Hamed Diane S?m?ga, accompanied by National Highway Administrator Issa Assimi Diallo, Land, Sea and River Transportation Director Djibril Tall, and PST2 Project Coordinator Ti?moko Y?ro Kon?. Other notable attendees were the governor of the Bamako District, Ibrahima F?f? Kon? and representatives of unions and groups representing drivers and transportation companies.

The PST2 plan demonstrates the will of those in power to improve the transportation sector. It solidifies the common view that the government and the World Bank are coming to share with regards to the development of the transportation sector in our country. The PST2 will support the quality transportation services offered to rural and urban communities by improving key segments of the infrastructure.

The multifaceted approach of the PST2 brings in the agriculture, urban and rural development sectors. According to Minister S?m?ga, it has the potential to change the face of Bamako. “This project is dear to our hearts, given the frustration of traffic jams in the city,” he said. Some of the major avenues downtown will be rebuilt to accommodate demand. He indicated that the movement of private vehicles will be structured so as to limit its negative impact on quality of life.

According to the coordinator of the PST2, Ti?moko Y?ro Kon?, the project involves three major sections. Costing slightly more than two billion CFA francs [$4.3 million US], Section A will improve access to rural areas in order to promote rural development and agro-industrial activities.

Section B aims to develop part of the urban transportation system in Bamako in order to support urban activities and regional growth. Meanwhile, Section C targets all activities relative to logistical and institutional support for the completion of the project and the subsequent evaluation.

With more than six billion CFA francs [$13 million US], Section B will create a 1.2 kilometer exclusive bus corridor along the Boulevard du Peuple. The Sotrama minibuses will have access to a 3.8 kilometer ring that is already being presented on several informational signs around the capital. Sidewalks and passageways will be built to help pedestrians and minibus passengers reach the downtown area. Two overpasses will allow pedestrians to cross the main minibus routes.

The coordinator assured attendees that “There will be no demolitions, only improvements. In the worst case scenario, it will be public buildings affected. In all cases, the improvements will be made on existing corridors.” Land, Sea and River Transportation Director Djibril Tall explained that, “The goal we have in mind is the improvement of traffic in our capital. We have an obligation to show the drivers and transportation companies that the project is in no way designed to put anyone out of business.”

The department, in the context of its mission to extend its activities to other sectors, has begun to develop a set of complementary improvements for the 2008-2012 period that will involve road, rail, air and river transportation.

Background, Better Buses

The cama suite life

Photo by Craig James
Photo by Craig James
I was chatting with a friend today about long-distance travel. I mentioned how I’ve taken a number of overnight bus, train and ferry trips, and he told me about bus travel in his home country of Argentina. Turns out that there are several classes of bus travel there, and the highest class, “cama suite,” is pretty swanky. (Cama is Spanish for bed.) The overnight buses have seats that fold down completely horizontal, with lots of room (three across), attendants, full meals and “lots of alcohol.”

I went home and researched it, and everything I’ve found confirms Antonio’s account. There are lots of reports from English-speaking travelers in Argentina, complete with photos, like the one by American tourist Craig James, who took the photo of “full cama” service above. Craig’s daughter Caroline was less impressed by the “semi-cama” service on a subsequent leg of their trip.

More details can be found on the websites of the several for-profit bus companies, such as Expreso Alberino. That’s right, several for-profit bus companies: according to the handy Omnilineas website, the popular Buenos Aires-Bariloche route is handled by at least five different companies, with prices ranging from about $60 to $90 US.

I’m seriously wondering about the economic factors that allow companies to profitably run such luxurious bus service, but somehow prevent planes, trains and private cars from taking all the business. And how this fits in with the results of the National Geographic Greendex survey that ranked Argentines as some of the greenest people in the world (PDF), except for the amount of beef they consume.

Could we ever see something like that here in the US? Well, we do have the LimoLiner between New York and Boston. That has seen mixed reviews, but seems to be doing well, having recently added service to Hartford. However, it’s only a five-hour trip (max); as far as I know there’s nothing similar for overnight trips. Maybe someone should try a NYC-Chicago or NYC-Atlanta run?


City selects a logo for the Curitiba Metro

Five teams are working on the alignment for the first line.

Prefeitura define a marca do Metr? Curitibano, Edson Fonseca, Jornale Curitiba.

The logo of the Curitiba Metro can already be seen on the streets of this city, on the uniforms and the security equipment of the city and the Novo Modal consortium, the contractor for the implementation of the core project. Five technical teams are working on the CIC Sul – Santa C?ndida alignment where the first line of the Metro, the Blue Line, will run. There are also teams conducting interference studies in order to locate the existing electrical, water and telephone networks on the site.

The Curitiba Metro logo contains an “M” surrounded by a “C” in a green cylinder representing the tunnel where this new mode of transportation will run, all in the city colors of red, white and green. The design is the work of Marcos Minini for the Master agency. To create the identity for the Curitiba Metro, Minini analyzed 169 metro logos from Brazil and other countries. 83 of these used the letter “M” – practically a worldwide standard for identifying metros.

The City of Curitiba plans to build 22 kilometers of the Blue Line between the Santa C?ndida and CIC Sul terminals. The system will be underground for 19 kilometers. In the section between Passeio P?blico and Pra?a Eufr?sio Correia, the metro will pass beneath Riachuelo and Bar?o do Rio Branco Streets in an old Expresso bus tunnel.

The line will have a 500-meter elevated section on Winston Churchill Avenue from the Pinheirinho terminal to Route BR-476. From there it will continue along the surface in the highway median to CIC Sul, the end of the line, where a complex will be built including a parking lot, control center and maintenance center, with a special access route for the metro vehicles.

21 stations are envisioned for the project, with an average of one kilometer between them. The vehicle used will have light rail characteristics and carry 1150 passengers in each four-car consist. The system will transport 650 thousand passengers per day.

The Novo Modal consortium is responsible for the preliminary studies of compatibility with existing projects and studies of topography, geotechnics, geology, hydrology, interference along the corridor, earthworks, various underpasses, rail superstructure, buildings (stations, terminals, control center and administrative building), fixed systems, rolling stock, and budget details.

Five teams will work from near the Pinheirinho neighborhood towards Santa C?ndida, collecting subsoil material to send for laboratory analysis. This phase is part of the geologic and geotechnic studies, which will be conducted by the consortium formed by the Trends, Engefoto, Esteio and Vega companies. As the project extends from Santa C?ndida to CIC Sul, the next phase will survey from Pinheirinho to CIC Sul.

Over the following days, the Ecossistema company, consultants for the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Report (EIA-RIMA), will begin their work, based on the data collected by the consortium responsible for the studies and engineering projects.