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Maria Terezinha Vaz.
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The City of Curitiba Public Transportation History

From mule Tram in 1887 to the BRT, (Bus Rapid Transit), in 1974, Articulated Bus in 1980, and the Biarticulated Bus, a short train on tires, transporting up to 270 passengers, in 1992.

The following is a translation of exclusive interviews with Curitiba's transport innovators from Southern Brazil.

"During the past few decades most city planners around the world," said Architect Carlos Ceneviva, "prepared for growth by analyzing traffic volume; so larger streets, avenues, and overpasses were built to alleviate traffic problems." However, we know now that Curitiba creator's team, including him, took a different approach. In 1972, the team closed down their busiest streets, dedicating more spaces for people. As Hitoshi Nakamura states, "The philosophy was to have cars, but never be dominated by them." The creators of Curitiba's public transportation system planned for people to drive fewer cars and enjoy the city.


Curitiba has over one hundred-year of history of public transportation. The first system was a tram pulled by a mule during the imperial time in 1887. From 1910, Curitiba grew faster; so in 1912 an electrical tram replaced the mule-tracked. In 1928, the first bus begun circulating through the city streets. Soon after the system became so successful that private companies started exploring the business. Mayor Ney Braga proposed legislature to control it. His plan was to create an organized system, and so, the Selective Zones was born and still  exists to this day.


In 1974, the existing system did not meet the city's growing demands. Under his first term, Mayor Jaime Lerner's team of architects and civil engineers implemented the Trinary Road System and its dedicated Bus Lanes , which is known in the United States and around the world as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). First of its kind in the world designed by Architect Rafael Dely. In 1979, Lerner established the Rede Integrada de Transporte (RIT), which consists of an integrated system where citizens pay one ticket to go anywhere in the city within the terminal circuit. In 1980, the articulated bus replaced the smaller Express buses in the dedicated lanes, increasing the capacity of the system. In March of 1991, the Tube Stations and Speedy Bus (Ligeirinho) appeared in Curitiba's streets.


The Speedy Bus, designed to travel long distances without stop, and Tube Station that made possible embarkation and debarkation at level with fare collected outside the bus, increased the number of people using the system. Most users were car owners who found public transportation reliable, easier, and less expensive than driving a car. In 1992, the Biarticulated buses, a short train on tires (They are twenty-five meters long and have five doors transporting up to 270 passengers), became another option.


In 1980, the city of Strasbourg, France put out a public awareness campaign in favor of public transportation showing three images to make the public aware of the number of buses, cars and trams needed to transport 215 people. At that time, 174 cars were needed, three buses, and one tram. Today, just one of Curitiba's Biarticulated bus carries 270 passengers. If the system were adopted world-wide, imagine how much less gas, pollution, and traffic congestions there would be. Imagine cities around the Greater Monterey and San Francisco Bay connected with Speedy Buses, making travel and commuting easy, fast, inexpensive, and less polluting. Perhaps we could eliminate more ugly overpasses in San Francisco and San Jose. The cities would be much more pleasant to look at and live in.


The City of Curitiba Transportation System has been adopted, partially, in many cities around the world; including many US cities, such as: Los Angeles, Seattle, Honolulu, Boulder, Houston, and others. However, the system is not as efficient as in Curitiba because, according to Jaime Lerner, the system must be fully adopted, which has not been occurring. Partially as it has been adopted, it does not work. So far, only the City of BogotŠ, Colombia, has entirely adopted the system and it became also a model for other cities as Curitiba Transportation System is. The system was also successfully tested in New York City, but the city authorities has not yet gotten into agreement with Curitiba to launch the system permanently.


 "The Biarticulated Buses and its dedicated lanes are like an above ground subway system," said Architect Carlos Ceneviva, "with the advantage of lower installation cost per square kilometer." For example, it costs US$100 million per square kilometer to install a subway system versus US$ 3 to 8 million, depending on street development, to install the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The BRT is a less expensive solution and a comparable competitor to the subway system, thus to invest in more expensive public transportation system is not a smart decision.  Curitiba's Public Transportation System is self-sufficient. It pays for itself completely; no subsidize government money is needed at all. It is a privately owned, profitable running business, regulated by the city.  It is a clean, safe, efficient, inexpensive, yet profitable business.


To reduce consumption has become an important factor for human survival. Reduction of automobile running on streets will decrease emission of CO2 helping decrease global warming risks and traffic jam. There will be no reason for oil’s wars as well. However, alternative renewable fuels such as the Brazilian alcohol (Ethanol) and other biodiesel to come to the market that are less polluting than gasoline would help with less emission, but it will not help us reduce traffic congestion. The world has to reduce the number of cars running or traffic will be more and more unbearable. Inexpensive and fast public transportation is the convenient solution. 

 
Curitiba Transportation System Photographic Gallery

Trinary Road System - This image portrays the center street of the Trinary Road design. The center section is dedicated to Biarticulated buses, known as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). On either side lane, are the sections intended for local traffic. Parallel to that street are the "Rapidas," (Speedy Street), which are two one-way streets that support the dedicated lanes. That is the complete Trinary Road System.

   
Tube Station - This unique design speeds up the flow of embarcation and debarkation because it happens at level. Passengers pay before getting into the bus, making the process faster, which is essential for efficient operations.
   
Persona - This image shows the system makes it possible for persons of different background and ages to leave their cars at home and take the bus.
   
Biarticulated -During the peak hours, on average, every fifty seconds, there is a bus stopping at a tube station on both sides, going in both directions, carrying up to 270 passengers. Those buses are the key elements on the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), system; which is one segment that integrates the Trinary Road Design. It is important to understand that this segment alone does not resolve traffic flow problems in any city.
   
"Abra Cadabra" - These doors open easily to load and unload passengers at level making the Trinary Road Design efficient. City planners must know that the dedicated lanes called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), it is only part of the system; it alone does not operate efficiently. To be as efficient as it is in Curitiba and BogotŠ, the system must be fully implemented.
   
Debarkation - Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), helps with the efficiency of the Trinary Road Design; created by Architect Rafael Deley. People flow through without hassles.
   
The Transport - The BRT (Bus Rapit Transit), supporting system. The easiest, safest, and fastest economical way to travel around the city; even small children are safe.
   
Rapidas (Speedy Street) - This street is one of the two side streets that compliment the Trinary Road System by providing an alternative route for cars traveling across the city. They are essential supporting flow of the Dedicated Lanes called BRT, (Bus Rapid Transit). Without these supporting traffic flow streets, the system does not work effiently.
 
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