This analysis examines an innovative approach to transportation policy in Curitiba, Brazil. Curitiba is a city of 1.6 million residents that has grown fourfold in the last 30 years. Unlike many cities, quality of life and transportation has not been a casualty of growth. Curitiba's transportation system actively helps residents obtain the benefits of growth, including access to jobs, homes, recreation, and other elements of the urban community. Curitiba's transportation planning process is practical. It recognizes financial and social constraints. Curitiba began with buses because it had buses. It began with a series of small improvements guided by a long-term plan. It first added a modest express route system with dedicated bus lanes. It sought out ways to improve and extend the system. The result is a surface system that provides the high quality service of well-known underground systems at a much lower capital cost. These low costs mean that mass transit is entirely financed by passenger fares. The present system provides a range of benefits. The systematic approach to urban transportation has reduced travel times and increased convenience. Curitiba's buses now attract more passengers per operating kilometer than in any other Brazilian city. This intensive use occurs even though Curitiba also has one of the highest automobile ownership rates in Brazil. Rider surveys suggest that at least 20% of these new passengers previously used automobiles to commute. With less automobile congestion, the city has replaced several downtown streets with broad pedestrian malls and shopping areas. Reduced traffic appears to result in substantial fuel savings as well as reduced pollutant emissions. Calculations suggest that the reduction in automobile traffic saves 27 million liters of fuel/year.


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