They got the ball rolling yesterday, revealing the logo for the 2014 tournament.
Twelve Brazilian cities have been selected to host World Cup matches. These cities now face a daunting but exciting challenge: to seize this opportunity to boost urban transit systems in a meaningful and lasting way. World Cup transit investments — meant to help Brazilian cities manage the estimated 2.98 million additional visitors that the Cup will generate — have the potential to improve quality of life, safety and accessibility in Brazilian cities long after the Cup is over.
The federal government has set aside R$7.68 billion (US$4.34 billion) for “urban mobility” infrastructure improvements in host cities; state and local governments have committed an additional R$3.8 billion (about US$2.15 billion), bringing the total to R$11.48 billion (US$6.48 billion). Private investments will increase this figure. Ideally, transit projects should be nearly complete by the Confederations Cup, which will Brazil will host in 2013 as a prelude to the World Cup.
Federal funds are being administered by Pro-Transporte, a Ministry of Cities program with the objective of promoting “collective urban transportation projects for physical, economic, and social development, improvements in quality of life, and environmental preservation.” Those goals sound a lot like the mission of EMBARQ, the producer of this blog.
To find out more about transit preparations for Brazil’s World Cup, today I caught up with Dr. Toni Lindau, the director of the Center for Sustainable Transport in Brazil (CTS-Brasil), which is part of the EMBARQ Network. I asked him for his thoughts on how the World Cup will influence future plans for sustainable transportation in Brazil, along with what projects he sees as the highest priority. Here are some highlights from our conversation (more to come in the coming weeks!):
TheCityFix: What are some of the biggest challenges for sustainable transport in Brazil?
Toni Lindau: The biggest challenge for Brazilian cities is to move beyond the current model of public transit, which consists of hundreds of private consolidated bus companies operating on many lines in Brazilian city centers. This model needs to evolve to become more rational: a more rational system would have fewer, higher-capacity buses operating on BRT or near-BRT lines.
Cities’ proposals for World Cup transit projects already include 500 kilometers of BRT lines. Still, there is a risk that cities will settle for merely segregating “busways,” which would be an improvement from the current situation, but not nearly as big of an improvement as BRT systems. Busways implemented without a larger, well-established BRT system — which includes political commitments such as long-term planning incorporating land-use strategies and a firm regulatory system — are not nearly as efficient as full BRT systems.
A more rational model would prevent cities from losing so many passengers to private transit.
TheCityFix: What are some of the biggest transit projects being planned to prepare for the World Cup?
Toni Lindau: Many, many projects are being planned for the twelve host cities, including new avenues, cycleways, flyovers, monorail and light rails systems, and twenty new BRT systems. [Look over a comprehensive list of federally-funded urban mobility improvements for the host cities]
We are most hopeful about advances in BRT in a number of host cities. In Rio, for instance, there are already plans for three new BRT systems, including some in areas that currently have no public transit.
TheCityFix: Which cities is CTS-Brasil working most closely with?
Currently, we have strong, established partnerships with Porto Alegre — where CTS-Brasil is based — and Recife, where CTS has been working with the city on plans for developing a BRT system for the past few years. In addition, we are working closely with Rio on developing BRT systems that will also be crucial for transit during the Olympics in 2016. [EMBARQ’s BRT Simulator — developed under Toni’s leadership at CTS-Brasil — helped Rio win its bid for the Olympics last year.]
And CTS-Brasil is working closely with Belo Horizonte, which is perhaps the most advanced in its plans for sustainable transport improvements.
Still, while these are currently the strongest working relationships, CTS-Brasil is ambitious and open to working with all Brazilian cities on their urban mobility projects.
TheCityFix: How can Brazil ensure that transit investments are used for sustainable transport improvements that will last long beyond the World Cup?
Toni Lindau: All of the projects are envisioned as long-term infrastructural improvements. I noticed that in South Africa some of the projects [e.g. Park & Ride transport] will only last as long as the World Cup. In Brazil, we’re planning on fully investing in lasting transportation improvements, not quick-fix projects.