In terms of urban transport, Latin America represents an important region for development policy. Some ideas, such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Curitiba and Bogota or the rail concessions in Rio and Buenos Aires and the São Paulo Metro Line 4 PPP, are very innovative. Yet Latin America is also a region suffering from huge congestion problems and poor public transport options: There is a lack of infrastructure and, in most cases poor coordination and regulation between the several levels of government in a metropolitan region. Lack of coordination between the different levels of government is probably the main obstacle to faster progress in the sector. Scarce resources are lost due to duplication of investments, lack of uniformity between tariff and subsidy policies and poor modal integration. The users suffer daily with this lack of metropolitan authorities capable of prioritizing investments in infrastructure and services over the medium and long term thereby enticing them to shift from the automobile and the ever increasing number of motorcycles to efficient, affordable and comfortable public transport.
Against this backdrop, World Bank projects have encouraged metropolitan regions to come up with four pillars to help safeguard sustainable urban transport in the region:
the creation of comprehensive metropolitan authorities,
integrated strategies for urban transport, land use and air quality,
financing mechanisms other than government budgets and
public-private partnerships with appropriate regulation
The presentation showcases these four pillars and shows how Bank financed projects have tried to make them a reality in some metropolitan regions. One example is financial mechanisms. It is a well-known fact that a transport system can only be organized and run successfully if the necessary funds are made available. So should there be sole reliance on state funding which is dependent on economic cycles? What other mechanisms are there? Would advertising, additional taxes or the creation of commercial spaces in station buildings be a good idea? Would urban operations which tax the additional floor space created in the areas of influence of the urban transport systems be a feasible alternative? Another example is public-private partnerships: they reduce or postpone the burden on the government and enable planned projects to be implemented more quickly.
Jorge Rebelo has worked at the World Bank for 25 years and is now a lead transport consultant. His expertise covers both urban public passenger transport and freight logistics. He has worked on subway and suburban rail projects in various parts of the world, and freight logistics projects in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, India and China. Before he joined the World Bank he worked in both the private and public sectors as well as in academia.