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.