TheCityFix Picks, January 23rd: Billions for Brazilian BRT, Light Rail for Motor City, Indian Public Safety


Brazil, the pioneer of BRT, is investing US$7.7 billion in Recife's BRT. Photo by Fotoparceiros.

Brazil, the pioneer of BRT, is investing US$7.33 billion in Recife’s BRT. Photo by Fotoparceiros.

Welcome back to TheCityFix Picks, our series highlighting the newsy and noteworthy of the past week. Every week, we’ll run down the headlines falling under TheCityFix’s five themes: integrated transport, urban development and accessibility, air quality and climate change, health and road safety, and communications and marketing.

Mexico City won the 2013 Sustainable Transport Award for opening yet another line of its BRT system, Metrobus Linea 4 and for its commitment to creating more urban public space. The award, which is co-sponsored by EMBARQ, the producer of this blog, is given to cities that take bold strides in sustainable transport and urban redevelopment. Rio De Janeiro was a runner up to the 2013 prize and was nominated for opening first line of its BRT sytstem, Transoeste.

A local transportation advocate in Washington, D.C. has created a multi-modal Google based mashup map that combines mobility options – walking, driving, cycling and transit- into a single trip plan, allowing users to compare modes, routes and time saving opportunities.

The Northeastern Brazillian state of Pernambuco has begun a US$7.33 billion bidding program to create a 391 line BRT system for the state capital region (Recife). Bids for what will be a minimum of five “lots” of the project are due by April and represent between 342 and 498 individual transit vehicles. Recife is slated to be a 2014 World Cup host city.

Across the Atlantic, delays in implementing the latest phase of Rea Vaya, Johannesburg’s BRT system, may cost the City of Johannesburg millions of rand in manufacturers’ fees due to lagging acquisitions. The first phase, which is in operation and began construction in 2009, cost the City R391 million (US$ 43.3 million) in fees due to similarly delayed system roll out.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood committed $25 million for a streetcar project to run through the economically distressed heart of downtown Detroit. The remaining projected $140 million in construction costs are subject to fundraising between public private partnerships, to be funded by businesses seeking to attract workers downtown.

The Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai, which oversees all mass transit in the UAE megacity, has reported a 367 million trip count count across taxi, bus, Metro and aquatic public transport in 2012, a jump of 21 million rides, and 37,000 passengers.

Texas entrepreneur Michael McDaniel has proposed an aerial gondola transport system for Austin, Texas, which his firm is marketing as a cheap alternative to subways and light rail systems. Aerial tramways, such as those in Bogotá, Cape Town or Medellin, function as both tourist attractions and essential transport modes that McDaniel bills as an alternative for “medium-sized cities that don’t have the tax base to support such large civic projects like subway systems.” We interviewed McDaniel for this publication in 2012.

A report has found that the average rent for a Manhattan apartment is $3,973, costing $2,800 more than the U.S. national average, while selling prices for housing in New York’s most densely populated settlement was $1.46 million, compared to $230,000 nationally.  Conversely, the Center for Housing Policy dubbed New York City one of the most affordable cities in the United States after accounting for transportation costs.

Activists in India have taken to the streets and to twitter to give voice to the massive public safety problems women face in India, in light of the murder of a university student in Delhi last month on a public bus. The campaign, known by its twitter hashtag, #SafeCityPledge, calls on the public to do what would otherwise would be banal activities – walking alone, use public transport, or loiter in public spaces – if not for the systemic harassment of women in public.

An advocacy group in Pittsburgh is calling for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to better fund mass transit in Pennsylvania’s second largest metropolitan area. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to announce a $3.5 billion annual shortfall in state spending to maintain basic transport infrastructure, including public transit. The Port Authority of Allegheny County, the primary public transit provider for Pittsburgh, narrowly avoided a 35% cut in service this past September.


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