Sitting Room

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bussing around in Curitiba - Part II

Photo of abandoned Tube Station in the TTU of Foz do Iguaçu

Would this work somewhere else?
What I mean here is would the Curitiba Public Bus Transportation System work everywhere. I don’t know. Probably not. I have heard though I can not say what results were that cities like New York and Los Angeles have tested or thouhgt of testing the Curitiba Futuristic Bus Tube Rapid Transit / Transport system or part of the system. Has it worked out there? I think that part of the problem is that is that cities throughout Brazil or even the world adopt part of the system.

One example that I can offer you about a place where the Curitiba Solution was tested twice and did not work is that of Foz do Iguaçu – the city that accidentally came to be a neighbor of the Iguassu Falls – which I have declared as a World Peace and Power Place thus making the city a kind of Guardian of the Falls.

In 1997 the Government of Paraná then under the administration of Architect Jaime Lerner, one of the fathers of the Curitiba Transformation launched something called the World Nature Games (WNG). The WNG were to take place every four years in the West Coast of the State of Paraná – a place he invented and that nowadays it is referred to by this new name. In fact the West Coast included not only the city of Foz do Iguaçu and the Iguassu Falls but also a string of little cities along the Reservoir (called Lake locally) of the Itaipu Dam.

In this process Foz do Iguaçu served partly as a showcase for the “Ligeirinho” (Quickie) Bus and the Tube Stations. One tube station was installed near the City Hall where today is the Secretary of Tourism, the other was stationed in a place (now extinct) called the Foz do Iguaçu Nautical Base. During the games these fast track busway worked perfectly. Another line was created to be international between Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este crossing the International Friendship Bridge. Miraculously the International Quickie Bus Line worked and was able to usher and push people through the border during the games despite the chaos and complete lawlessness of the local international or transboundary traffic. When the games were over, the Quickie Bus Experiment also was. It is said that the State Government offered the tubes and the buses to the city for a price. Don’t ask me what it was. But the mayor of Foz do Iguaçu at the time declined the offer. It is also said heat the mayor lacked the courage to face local bus company owners and line concession holders. One of the particularities of the Curitiba system is that there is only one concessionaire for public transportation. It is the specially created URBS (Urbanization of Curitiba SA / Inc) who then chooses and companies to be permission holders. As of today there are 10 urban permission holders and 18 metropolitan (greater Curutiba) permission holders. Since there is only one concession, lots of troubles are avoided like individual company colors, characterizations and other signs of corporate self.

Things were better in the 2000 – 2004 administration. The mayor of Foz do Iguaçu then a younger men called Samis da Silva was able to introduce part of the system in Foz do Iguaçu, Foz for short and for the friends. In the package he got an Integrated Bus Terminal called Terminal de Transporte Urbano (TTU); was able to create several Quickie Bus lines from the TTU: to the Morumbi district or neighborhood, to the highly populated area of Port Meira (facing Argentina) and maybe a few others. Since day one, the news system faced strong opposition to the system. They were not willing to accept the Integrated Fare (The soul of an Integrated Terminal). They had to surrender on that. They wanted to keep the colors of their buses or the identity of their companies. Tey won that one. They hated the tube stations. And hated to have to buy special buses for the Quickie Lines. They also won that battle. Part of the population also helped sink the project. Many tube stations were taken down, perforated, smashed by hammers, bricks, gun fire and bullets and finally rocks.

The last thing that I knew is that the tubes had been sold, sold back, given away or anything like that. Thus Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil, in the same state as Curitiba rejected the system except the social (not quite), integrated fare and the Terminal though I have noticed that someone is stealing the screws, nuts and bolts of the TTU. I hope it will not fall on people. Next posting: cities that have used part of Curitiba ideas. Cheers!

P.S.: Bogotá, Colombia has implemented a Rapid Bus Transport System called Transmilenio. Check their homepage in English and Spanish

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