Reducing GHG Emissions and Promoting Sustainable Transport in Argentine cities.

September 30, 2016

The municipalities of Rosario, Tucumán, Posadas and Córdoba changed their transport policy in favor of sustainable initiatives by integrating transport development and urban planning, enhancing mass public transportation services, promoting interconnectivity with other transport modes, and increasing public use of cycling and pedestrianization of public space to create more livable and greener cities


The green and inclusive urban mobility challenge originates from limited quality public transport with a non-motorized infrastructure combined with the environmental hazards of too much motorization at the same time. The transport sector is responsible for more than one-third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Latin America, and CO2 emissions are expected to more than double in 2050 as a result of increased motorization and vehicle use. In Argentina, one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America with over 90% of its population living in urban area,  cities have continued to grow rapidly, further worsening congestion and air pollution as citizens opt to use private motor vehicles rather than the suffering public transit systems for transportation needs. Despite the rapid growth in urbanization and motorization, the pattern of absolute automobile dependence in most Latin American cities is not fixed. This provides a clear opportunity to develop long term policies reinforcing the link between land use, transport and environment.


The Sustainable Transportation and Air Quality Project, financed by the Bank’s Global Environment Facility (GEF), helped strengthen the institutional capacity of the municipalities of Rosario, Córdoba, Tucumán and Posadas, in order to integrate the concept of sustainable transport into the public policy agenda. Efforts were undertaken by these cities in the development of master plans, planning instruments, new policies and regulatory frameworks, all of which were designed to create incentives for more efficient and sustainable transport use.

All four beneficiary cities introduced numerous initiatives aimed at enabling the use of less energy intensive transport modes, including: the designation of exclusive bus lanes for public transport, the construction of new bikeways, promotion of bike-sharing programs, sustainable transportation campaigns, development of pedestrian corridors, and establishment of a transit monitoring center, among others. All of these initiatives toward cleaner, less energy intensive modes of transport are expected to significantly reduce emissions in the near future.


From 2010 to 2014 the Argentina GEF Project financed a total 18km of bikeways (12km in Rosario and 6km in Cordoba), which resulted in a 50 percent increase in the use of bikes   Regarding Green House Gas (GHG) emission reductions, initial information available for the new bikeways in the city of Rosario demonstrate that the equivalent of 165.32 metric tons of CO2 were saved the year following construction, a 0.6 percent decrease in comparison to the scenario without the Project. Considering the estimated social values of carbon is US$ 30 per metric ton of CO2, the value of these savings is equivalent to approximately US$ 5,000 for the first year of this Project. A cumulative savings of approximately 2,000 CO2 equivalent tons are expected eight years after the completion of the civil works.

Additionally, to promote the use of mass public transport, the following results were achieved:

  • 3.2 km of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Posadas was designed and financed.
  • Rosario received financial support to construct 9.5 km of BRT-type lanes on the North-South corridor. These lanes are expected to increase the number of public transport users by 3.000 new riders per day.
  • The Municipality of Cordoba received financial assistance to construct a pilot  BRT-type project (5.3 km), that reported a reduction of 24% in commercial travel time.
  • Sustainable transportation campaigns and a Bike-sharing program were launched in Rosario, including 480 public-use bicycles, and is expected to provide 4,000 new rides per day.


Bank Group Contribution

The Bank has financed several urban transport initiatives in Argentina over the past 20 years. A US$ 3.99 million grant from the GEF program was conceived as part of a “building block” of a new urban transport operation, the Metropolitan Areas Urban Transport Project (PTUMA), and contributed to the US$ 150 million total project cost. The PTUMA project covered several metropolitan areas including all four areas defined as beneficiaries of the GEF Project (Tucuman, Rosario, Cordoba and Posadas). Therefore, this operation was aimed at advancing specific co-financed technical assistance and pilot investments at the city level, promoting cross-fertilization of knowledge between cities, and serving as an entry-point in the design of comprehensive urban and land-use policy guidelines.


The Bank worked closely with Argentine counterparts, including the Implementation Unit and the four participating cities of Tucuman, Rosario, Cordoba and Posadas in coordinating planned investment activities. The four metropolitan areas were selected based on technical quality criteria, local capacity, commitment and political support highlighted in the proposals. The cities provided a combined US$ 7.73 million to co-finance the proposed activities. Over the GEF project implementation period, the private bus operating companies in these cities invested more than US$ 600 million to purchase buses with Euro III technology, which emits less pollution.  The Clean Air Initiative in Latin American cities, a network-based partnership managed by the World Bank to engage Latin American stakeholders, facilitated a number of activities, including information exchange, capacity building, and knowledge creation on air quality and transport issues.


Moving Forward

After the successful experience of building bikeways under the GEF operation, two additional bikeways were constructed, one in Salta (8.5 km) and another in Tucuman (1.85 km), both financed by the PTUMA. Argentina was  recently selected by the Spanish Trust Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (SFLAC) to implement a project called "Improving public transport, walking and cycling in Argentina's Cities of the Interior: A look at Smart Mobility Solutions",  which builds directly into the agenda advanced through the Argentina GEF, promoting new mobility policies. Furthermore, a new operation is being proposed through GEF VI STAR, which would give continuity to the line of work developed under these prior operations, introducing technological innovations, applied to sustainable mobility, integrating land use policies, promoting public and non-motorized transportation, intelligent cities and metropolitan coordination.

Most cities are also undertaking various initiatives in the field of sustainable transport with their own resources, including construction of bikeway networks (Rosario, Cordoba, Tucuman), bike-sharing programs (Rosario and Tucuman), campaigns to promote non-motorized transportation (Rosario and Cordoba) and construction of exclusive lanes for public transport (Posadas, Rosario and Cordoba), among others.


The use of public transport, cycling and walking creates a safer, cleaner, and more livable and inclusive urban space for all its citizens. Cecilia, who works in downtown, says "I enjoy biking, especially on sunny days. To get to the office, I combine the train and bicycle. I make a modest contribution to the environment". To make the trip to the law firm where she works, 45-year-old Paula travels “half by bike, half by train” because “it saves me time and is a little more predictable than other means,” she explains. The aim of the project is to promote sustainable cities, through the alignment of the local agenda – equity, congestion, road safety, healthy transportation, air pollution – with the global agenda of climate change and reduction of emissions.

public-use bicycles are expected to provide for 4,000 new rides per day in Rosario