Plan de Movilidad Sustentable

The municipal government of Buenos Aires has developed and begun to implement a comprehensive plan to foster healthy and sustainable mobility options for the city’s residents. From their website:

“We’re working to improve your quality of life. To accomplish this with the Sustainable Mobility Plan, we seek to reorder transit so that all of us can travel in a rapid, safe, and orderly manner in our city, contributing additionally to improved environmental quality. The Sustainable Mobility Plan integrates linked programs which were developed by using the global best practices, the support of recognized professionals in each field of expertise, and the mainstays of managing transportation and public transit: public transit priority, healthy mobility, and roadway safety and design.”

These three pillars have a number of supporting programs that are being implemented successfully:

Public transit priority

  • Preferential lanes – counterflow lanes used exclusively by buses and taxis during rush hours have been introduced on many of Buenos Aires’ main arteries, including Santa Fe, Pueyrredon, and Callao.
  • Metrobus – the city’s first BRT corridor opened at the end of May
  • New Metro stations – fifteen new stations are in planning or construction along four Subte lines

Healthy mobility

  • Ecological buses – hybrid buses are being introduced to reduce emissions
  • Pedestrian priority – restricting auto access to pedestrian corridors to encourage walking
  • Buenos Aires Better on Bike – the city has introduced a bike sharing program and is ambitiously expanding its network of bicycle lanes. Additionally, bike-friendly policies are in place for public transit. Daniel Chain, the city’s minister for urban development, credits these advances with fostering geometric growth of bicycle use over the past months

Roadway safety and design

  • Traffic safety and enforcement – This multipronged effort includes improved DUI enforcement, speeding crackdowns, and improvements to scholar transport.
  • Efficient parking systems
  • Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) implementation
  • Infrastructure improvements

The city is doing an impressive job of articulating a comprehensive vision of sustainable mobility, even though progress in making such significant changes can seem to be slow (see the above video – it features porteños praising a mobility improvement and suggesting a change in a different area, only for the video to then show that the suggested change is in fact underway). Working with strong allies like ITDP, Transeunte Argentina, and the Society of Architects is helping to turn this vision into reality.

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In the News: Pontificia Universidad de Chile Engineering Website

For the last month and a half, I have been working on a transit evaluation project with the Across Latitudes and Cultures – Bus Rapid Transit Center of Excellence hosted by the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. The University’s engineering department put together a quick overview of my work here (the result of my first ever interview in Spanish). Below is a loose translation:

Anson Stewart has completed nearly a year touring countries in Central America and Africa, observing transport systems

Anson Stewart, with bachelor degrees in urban studies and engineering from Swarthmore College (Philadelphia) and a masters student at MIT, is undertaking his investigation “School Bus Migrations” thanks to the Watson Fellowship, which 40 young people from the United States receive annually. This scholarship promotes the exploration and learning about other cultures around the world during a year.

June, 2011

South Africa, Tanzania, Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, and Argentina were some of Stewart’s destinations before arriving in Chile. In these countries he began his investigation about school buses that the United States exports en masse to different countries of the world for public transportation. After a bit of exploring, Stewart encountered some interesting findings.

All of the countries of Central America are scrapping the yellow buses which served in previous years as public transportation. Today there exist ongoing implementations or at least plans for bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, as was established in Colombia with the name Transmilenio at the beginning of the past decade, and recently in Johnnesburg. Nicaragua and Tanzania are in the planning stages, Guatemala has two corridors, and Panama has the buses but still do not use them because of the lack of political agreement.

Stewart believes that this tendency to implement BRT in all of these countries does not end up positively in all cases. “I think that the countries are replicating a technical model without necessarily thinking in the specific cases of culture, political system, or infrastructure,” he says.

Although there are not agreements among experts about its definition, according to Stewart, BRT is understood as a system of exclusive corridors for buses with prepaid fares. According to this definition, Transantiago corresponds to a BRT model in the trunk routes where prepaid boarding areas exist.

“Transantiago is the only case in which the change was complete at the level of the city, and not gradual, in contrast with the other countries where BRT is being implemented. This leads to quite a few challenges, and I think that the system functions quite well,” affirms Stewart. Among the positive aspects of Transantiago, the expert highlighted the ease of obtaining and using the Bip farecard,website services, and the security that results from drivers not having to race and compete for passengers.

To complement his investigation, Stewart hopes to travel to Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt, the furthest destinations to which school buses from the US have arrived. At the end of July, he will return to the US where he will begin his MS Transportation studies at MIT to complement his studies in urbanism and engineering.

Our Cities, Ourselves

Our Cities, Ourselves is an exhibition sponsored by the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy. It features ten cities that “have proven to be leaders in innovation in sustainable transport and are fertile ground for further transformation.” On my trip, I have visited three of these cities: Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, and Buenos Aires.

The exhibition was in South Africa during my stay there, but I waited to visit it until it opened at Argentina’s Museum of Architecture and Design. It was especially fun to read about the African cities I had gotten to know in an exhibit in South America. Speaking about the exhibition’s cities when it was in South Africa, the executive manager for planning and strategy at the Joburg Development Agency, Sharon Lewis, noted, “Nearly all of the cities are in developing nations, because this is where most urban growth will happen over the next 20 years. They have the opportunity to learn from and leapfrog over the mistakes made by developed nations, particularly the over-dependence of cars in the United States.”

Our Cities, Ourselves explores the use of bicycles, public space, and public transportation as tools to combat overdependence on cars in cities (PDF booklet highlighting these tools here). A video of the exhibit (in Spanish) is here.

For me, one of the most interesting parts of the exhibit in Argentina was a lecture by Columbia sociologist Saskia Sassen, who grew up in Buenos Aires. She shared her thoughts on transportation’s role in bringing about a “tipping point” in the fight for global sustainability. There are important “microprocesses” involved with transportation, and “we don’t need the big flagship project.” This was an important perspective to hear, especially given the publicity and flagship status cities tend to give to BRT projects. She also mentioned the prevalence of “sites in the city of non-voluntary immobility,” a phrasing I found helpful. A video of her remarks (in Spanish) is here.

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Rea Vaya – BRT in Johannesburg

Rea Vaya, Africa’s first true BRT system, commenced operations in Johannesburg on August 31, 2009 (see a video of the first day of operations here). Phase 1A includes the T1 trunk line, which uses articulated buses to convey 30,000 daily passengers through the 21 enclosed stations between Thokoza Park in Soweto to Ellis Park via the Central Business District. It also includes circulatory buses in the CBD and neighborhood feeder routes in Soweto (see route maps here). Construction of additional phases is ongoing; the system will eventually criss-cross the city, with a corridor running north through Sandton to Sunninghill. Rea Vaya faced violent opposition from some sectors of the preexisting minibus taxi industry. Strong municipal leadership and a focus on building meaningful relationships between stakeholders has enabled the system’s success, not only as a transportation corridor, but also as a tool to realize higher aspirations for Joburg’s urban space.

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Joburg’s MMC (Member of the Mayoral Committee) for Transport, Rehana Moosajee, has been one of the driving forces behind Rea Vaya. She graciously shared with me her perspectives on the system’s development and arranged for me to take guided tours of the its routes and central control center. In 2006, Joburg’s newly elected mayor decided to elevate transport to a stand-alone portfolio within the city’s government. This act underscored the importance of public transportation, and it was with a clear mandate that MMC Moosajee and others in the government began exploring options to transform the city’s mobility options. They invited leading BRT proponents to give a presentation, which included a showing of Making Things Happen with BRT. This short film promises numerous benefits for the urban environment (and politicians’ careers) from a high quality, world-class, subsidy-free transport mode. Leaders simply need to have the “guts,” “bite the bullet,” and take the first steps towards building a BRT system.

Determined to move forward with BRT, the city began laying the groundwork for Rea Vaya. They anticipated strong resistance from existing minibus taxi operators, whose industry and self-governance evolved on the margins of apartheid governmentality. The informal transit sector simultaneously contested and enabled apartheid practices, and in today’s Rainbow Nation, their market niche continues to be “the preservation of apartheid spatiality,” as South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Transport Jeremy Cronin put it. Given the minibus industry’s historically complicated relationship with government, the city government knew that building trust would be vital, and they accordingly employed a number of key tactics:

  • Giving taxi industry leaders “exposure to comparable informal operators.” When touring other cities that had also formalized previously informal systems, minibus industry leaders sensed an “element of resonance.” Realizing that informal operators in South Africa were not unique, and that others were better off for having embraced change, helped motivate industry leaders to move forward in cooperation with the city.
  • Using city money to hire technical advisors of the industry’s choosing, thereby enhancing the industry’s trust in government
  • Building strong, trusting relationships before beginning independently-moderated, formal negotiations
  • Seeking out visionary leadership in the minibus industry
  • Highlighting growing public pressure on the industry

Thus, more important to the project’s success than the hard infrastructure of dedicated lanes or stations were what MMC Moosajee called the “softer, silent issues behind enabling transformation.” Attending courses on “change management” with taxi industry leaders helped them understand, “If you don’t make a transformation, it’s to your own detriment.” For such an intense focus on relationship-building, “political involvement and will in driving the initial phases are key.” In Johannesburg, these “softer issues” were not for the faint of heart. MMC Moosajee’s house was attacked in the middle of the night, and she now has two bodyguards. As she told me, “I don’t think people realize how much guts you need…maybe it’s better you don’t know up front.”

Such courageous and visionary leadership, both on the part of the city government and the minibus operators who formed PioTrans, enabled the inauguration of Rea Vaya within three years of its proposal. Though other African cities, like Dar es Salaam, resolved to implement BRT years before, Joburg was the first city on the continent to successfully implement a full BRT system.

I talked with a number of Sowetans about their opinions on Rea Vaya. A vendor in the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication told me she still prefers minibus taxis, since they tend to pick passengers up closer to their homes and people are used to the way they work. In contrast, a university student I talked to on the inbound T1 shared that she loved the new service and used it often; her only complaint was that at peak periods, the buses are too crowded.

With approximately one million boardings per month, Rea Vaya has indeed been successful in terms of carrying passengers. It has also helped improve a number of larger urban issues: improving environmental quality, overcoming the legacy of apartheid spatial planning, bettering communities, and instilling a sense of decency in people’s daily commute. In short, MMC Moosajee believes that Rea Vaya has “changed peoples’ perspective on their own space.” When the system is complete, a station in Soweto will look the same as a station in Sandton; Rea Vaya is a world class transport system in the heart of a township. Earlier this year, New York City’s planning and transportation commissioners made their own visit to Soweto and shared how impressed they were with the Rea Vaya. Indeed, delegations of transport planners from around the world have toured Rea Vaya to learn more about successful BRT implementation.

Making Things Happen with BRT

Part 1:

Part 2:


The City of Johannesburg has compiled an excellent self-guided bus tour of Soweto. My South African hosts and I decided to do the tour one Saturday morning. Serendipitously, we reached the Jo’burg Theater Rea Vaya station just as city council members were boarding a special Rea Vaya bus for their own guided tour of the corridor. We were invited to join them, and I loved the tour and the chance to talk with some of the city and PioTrans officials.

We disembarked in front of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s house, then continued with the official delegation up Vilakazi Street past some captivating public art and the former residence of Nelson Mandela (now a museum). At the memorial to Hector Pieterson, we turned and went down the hill, hopping on a Rea Vaya T1 bus and continuing to the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. Rea Vaya does an excellent job of providing easily-comprehensible, efficient, and reliable transportation service to Soweto. Not only does this provide a much-needed service for Soweto’s residents, it also enables residents from other parts of South Africa to more comfortably visit these historic sites. Many of those who visit for the first time are pleasantly surprised by the quick trip on Rea Vaya and the warm welcome they receive in Soweto, a place that, in the country’s historical memory, is far-removed from Johannesburg.

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MyCiti – BRT Launched in Cape Town

The complete Phase 1A of Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus rapid transit system commenced operation in mid-May. It was originally planned to open in April 2010, but only the airport and stadium links were operational in time for last year’s World Cup. The BRT corridor and stations between Cape Town Civic Center and Table View were completed by this past January, but contentious negotiations with minibus taxi and bus operators led to a series of delays.

The political clashes and strikes leading up to MyCiTi’s implementation have their roots in historical difficulties regulating the informal minibus taxi industry:

In deregulating the minibus taxi sector in the late 1980s, and subsequently aiming to return to regulation through formally structured interventions such as the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme and the creation of a government-sanctioned representative structure (ie SANTACO), government has not created conditions conducive to the formalisation of minibus operating or business practices. Past interventions have, rather, contributed to the entrenchment of informal operating practices, the creation of ‘warlord’ figures fervently opposed to a loss of control of the sector; representative structures and operator associations well organised to violently disrupt the transport system and threaten public safety; and fluid loyalties within the industry. [Herrie Schalekamp, ACET Research Officer, in Mobility Magazine]

In one of the meetings I had with Herrie, he described the city as attempting to use BRT as an “infrastructural solution to a social issue.” Attempting to address transportation regulatory and governance issues by building dedicated rights of way and BRT stations would clearly lead to the “imbalance in work streams” characteristic of the project, with physical infrastructure delivered far earlier than operational and organizational structures. Further complicating the efforts to formalize and regulate the taxi industry (which receives no operating subsidies but generally pays no taxes) were unrealistic promises made by politicians and the lack of reliable data on existing operations.

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These two factors combined to confound the process of compensating existing minibus operators. At a national level, politicians promised that existing operators would not suffer any “legitimate loss of revenue” due to the implementation of BRT. Yet in most South African cities, revenue from legitimate minibus taxi operations is difficult to calculate accurately, especially considering the industry’s marginalized origins in the apartheid era. In Cape Town, transportation officials do not know accurately how many minibuses operate, or on what routes they operate, since so many minibuses are unlicensed. Given the promise to compensate existing operators for business taken by the BRT system, Cape Town officials must either offer jobs or monetary compensation to a growing list of (licensed and unlicensed) minibus owners whose routes will be affected. Officials agreed to compensate owners with unlimited permits for seven years of lost income, owners with limited permits for three years of lost income, and owners without licenses for one year of lost income. In agreeing to compensate unlicensed taxi drivers, they undermined earlier government attempts to negotiate only with legitimate taxi owners associations. The industry’s ongoing fragmentation has been a significant cause of delays to BRT implementation. As Herrie summed the situation up, “it’s a mess trying to regulate without the data.”

Cape Town’s private commuter bus operator, Golden Arrow, receives a R630 million subsidy annually, and has been another agent delaying MyCiTi’s inauguration. Golden Arrow was registering their concerns with BRT plans as early as 2008; in a 2010 speech at the South African Bus Owners Association Annual Conference, Golden Arrow’s General Manager FE Mayer objected:

The first and probably most important issue we have with BRT is that the concept was sold to Government on a false but convenient promise. The promise was that BRT will not need any operating subsidies. We say this is not possible and it will require more subsidy than current services require. In the recent past, Government has mainly held a negative view on the current bus subsidy system, and in most discussions it becomes evident they believe they are not getting good value for money. When they therefore heard that such a good system as BRT does not require subsidy, it was obviously an answer to their prayers. In itself it was enough for Treasury to buy into the concept.

Golden Arrow was clearly reluctant to give up their monopoly on subsidized road transport in the Western Cape. After two years of negotiations, they were able to pressure the City of Cape Town into letting them remain an independent operating company within the MyCiTi setup, instead of integrating with minibus operators to form a joint operating company as was originally planned. The Cape Times reported on the taxi industry’s displeasure at the city’s February capitulation to Golden Arrow:

This plan has annoyed TransPeninsula Investments [run by minibus leaders], which provided post-World Cup IRT services for the city. The company has already earned R1.5 million and R42.3m in two separate deviations from the city for the service. A senior executive of TransPeninsula said taxi operators concur about a third operator. “This will become evident soon. They want to give Golden Arrow their own company even though they’ve been having a monopoly for the last 150 years,” said the executive, who asked not to be named.

Transpeninsula threatened litigation, leading to further delays. Their recalcitrance is explained partly by the benefits they received from delays. As the provisional World Cup operator, Transpeninsula only was supposed to have contract for airport shuttle and special event operations (such as shuttles for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour) until October. Delays to BRT implementation meant extensions of their contract.

As late as April, officials were not confident that negotiations would be complete by May. The persistent effort of local and national government leaders eventually achieved success, and contracts were signed one day before the beginning of a phased rollout. The system has received generally positive publicity. With so many regulation and negotiation hurdles cleared, the implementation of future phases will likely be much easier.

BRT in Dar es Salaam

BRT in Dar es Salaam

Rendering of proposed BRT in Dar es Salaam, showing its close resemblance to Bogotá's Transmilenio (by Luc Nadal for ITDP, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License)


Bus rapid transit (BRT) has been promoted by various international consultants and experts as a viable transportation solution for Dar es Salaam’s worsening traffic congestion.  As a transport model, it offers the potential to improve mobility without excessive investment or operating subsidies that would be inappropriate given Tanzania’s poverty.  Yet despite readily available international funding and technical expertise for BRT, the existing fragmentation of bureaucratic and transit operating structures has delayed the implementation of BRT in Dar es Salaam.  A brief overview of DART’s Phase I is below, followed by a more extensive discussion of the project’s background and potential pitfalls.

Phase I Overview

  • 2002 – The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) drafts a bus rapid transit proposal with the Dar es Salaam City Council, predicting it will be Africa’s first bus rapid transit system
  • 2003 – The City Council endorses the BRT proposal
  • 2005 – BRT conceptual design completed
  • 2006 – Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (DART) formed under the Prime Minister’s Office
  • 2007 – Environmental impact planning completed
  • 2008 – The World Bank approves a $190 million International Development Association credit, partly towards the BRT project; The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) completes the Urban Transport Policy and System Development Master Plan for the City of Dar es Salaam
  • 2010 – President Jakaya Kikwete officially inaugurates construction on Phase I
    • 21 kilometeters of dedicated lanes, closed system
    • 29 stations, 5 terminals
    • Cost of $125 million (including $20 million for expropriations)
    • Cash and contactless card fare collection, baseline fare of 400 Tsh and transfer fare of 100 Tsh
  • 2012 – Projected opening
Phase 1 Trunk Routes

Phase 1 Trunk Routes (from DART Investors Document), compare this to the red Morogoro Rd. lines on the diagram I made


Current Need for Transit Improvements – Congestion “Without Mercy”

From the Center for Economic Prosperity

Traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam is horrendous, the worst I’ve observed in my travels.  I spent stretches of fifteen minutes at a time sitting in stationary daladalas on Morogoro Road (see my transit map of Dar es Salaam here).  Mwinyi/Bagamoyo Road, another artery, can be even worse, since it is only one lane on either side of a poorly enforced “reversible lane” (which leads to regular games of low-velocity chicken).  Average rush hour speeds on Mwinyi Road are about 7 mph, leading trips to take three times longer during rush hour than during normal flow.  As the Center for Economic Prosperity reports, “It is undisputed that congestion is slowing down economic activities in the city without mercy.”

The costs of the city’s worsening congestion extend beyond commuters’ wasted time.  Noise and air pollution from excessive congestion adversely affect public health.  Particulate matter from old diesel engines is of particular concern, especially given a recent study’s findings that “asthma is an important clinical condition in sub-Saharan Africa [and there are] major gaps in clinical care, particularly in urban areas.”


Concentrations of particulate matter are much higher near the Tazara Intersection than at other sites nearby. (Source: 2008 Presentation on Dar es Salaam Transport Policy and System DevelopmentMaster Plan Preliminary Feasibility Study, funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency)

There are also more immediately tangible harms inflicted by crashes.  Pedestrians and bicyclists face hazardous conditions; the city has few sidewalks, and those that do exist are often taken over by impatient drivers trying to bypass traffic congestion.  According to the African Center of Excellence for Public and Nonmotorized Transport (ACET), pedestrians account for 69% of the crash fatalities in Dar es Salaam.

Frustrated drivers often speed past traffic on sidewalks, creating dangers for pedestrians.

Frustrated drivers often speed past traffic on sidewalks, creating dangers for pedestrians.


Causes of the Standstill

A number of factors contribute to these congestion-related ills.  Poor planning, a lack of hierarchy in road sizes and uses, and underinvestment have severely curtailed the efficiency of the city’s road network.  Though there are traffic signals at some intersections, they are not adjusted to actual traffic conditions, so police officers manually direct traffic during peak periods.  The lack of available capital for transit operators leads them to use inefficiently small vehicles, increasing congestion.  Though rules prohibiting the smallest (16 seat) daladalas from entering the central business district have eased congestion slightly, relying on 35 seat minibuses still leads to unnecessary congestion.  For example, a 2007 traffic survey found that daladalas entered the central business district via Bandari Road more than 2300 times during one day.  To the north, about 1300 daladalas were counted on Maktaba Street (on the approach to New Posta) between 7:00 and 9:00 AM, accounting for half of the vehicles along that stretch of road.

The discomfort associated with these small vehicle also contributes to peoples’ desire to purchase and commute in their own private vehicles.  Car buyers can now order used vehicles from Japan from websites like Autorec.  The reconditioned vehicle will arrive at the Dar es Salaam Harbor a few months after ordering online. Strict emissions and safety standards in Japan create disincentives to driving older vehicles, so there is an abundant supply of affordable used vehicles that can be shipped to Tanzania.

To gain a wider perspective on these issues, I met with a retired infrastructure/road sector leader for the World Bank’s resident mission in Dar es Salaam.  In his view, the congestion I observed in Dar es Salaam was illustrative of similar problems across Africa; indeed, places like Luanda, Angola, have even worse traffic than Dar es Salaam.  He told me, “The big challenge for the world is cities in Africa,” since they face the challenge of confronting rapid growth and simultaneous poverty.  These cities have the opportunity to avoid repeating the automobile-centric mistakes of the United States by alleviating standstills while avoiding road expansion projects that will be eventually be overwhelmed by induced demand effects.

Currently, Dar es Salaam is home to about 30 registered motor vehicles per 1000 people.  The number of vehicles in the city is expected to grow by a factor of five in the next decade.  While the transport infrastructure is already totally insufficient for the current number of vehicles, expanding roadway capacity alone will only encourage increased use of private cars.

Working Towards Effective Institutional Structures

Institutional capacity is also insufficient to handle Dar es Salaam’s pressing mobility concerns.  Currently, fifteen separate agencies are in charge of various aspects of transportation policy within the city.  And, as a report commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development states, “There is no coordinating mechanism that brings together all these institutions together to form a common set of goals and strategies that enable transport planning and regulation to be undertaken in a cohesive and integrated manner.”

Plans have been developed for a Dar es Salaam Urban Transit Authority (DUTA) that would integrate the various existing institutions, and international consultants have stressed the importance of such integration.  For example, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), at the request of Tanzania’s national government and Dar es Salaam’s city council, provided technical assistance in the preparation of a transport master plan study between April 2007 and June 2008.  The study strongly backed an urban transit authority that would address the current fragmented regulatory and planning structure.  It was optimistic about previously completed BRT planning and the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (DART), then recently established by the national government.

Particularly relevant in understanding the role of DART is that the Establishment Order outlines a semi-autonomous and commercial role for DART to manage the transport system role on a day-to-day basis; through a commercially viable operation, effective management to deliver quality service, operational efficiency and financial performance (surplus). These objectives are contained in the performance criteria set out in the charter to be monitored by the Ministerial Advisory Board. Its semiautonomous status implies that it is not subjected to direct political pressure or influence other than the strategy policy formally set by the Permanent Secretary and the Ministerial Advisory Board.

(Dar es Salaam Transport Policy and System Development Master Plan, Technical Report 3: Institutional Reform of Urban Transport Management)

According to DART’s website, its “vision is to provide a modern public transport system at a reasonable cost to users and yet profitable to the operators using quality, environmentally friendly, high capacity buses that meet international service standards and operate on exclusive lanes, reducing travel time.”  The agency’s ability to realize its vision may be compromised unless a larger coordinating authority like DUTA is actually created.  Technical and operational designs for BRT have been readily available in Dar es Salaam for years;  the limiting factor seems to be inefficiency in the existing bureaucratic system.

DART itself is intended to be an umbrella agency overseeing separate companies tasked with bus operations, fare collection, and fund management (see figure below).  This setup closely mirrors those of BRT systems, such as those in Bogotá (Transmilenio) and Santiago (Transantiago).

DART Institutional Structure

Proposed DART Institutional Structure (from DART Investors Document)


Global Expertise – “A South-South Collaboration”

The close resemblance, in both physical and institutional infrastructure, between the proposed DART system and Transmilenio is unsurprising given the extensive involvement of Transmilenio officials in this “south-south collaboration,” as the retired World Bank expert described it.  Both Enrique Peñalosa, the mayor of Bogotá from 1998-2001 who implemented Transmilenio, and Edgar Sandoval, Transmilenio’s first manager, visited Dar es Salaam to assist with conceptual planning (see the picture of Peñalosa in Dar es Salaam on page 96 of ITDP’s BRT planning guide).  Brazilian consulting firm Logit, which worked on both Transmilenio and Transantiago, completed the operational planning for DART.  As Onésimo Flores writes in The Transmilenio Recipe (in Spanish), “Its promoters have been so successful that the ‘Transmilenio model’ is now a true export product, as is demonstrated by the growing list of cities in the process of implementing some closed corridor inspired by this Colombian experience.”

International financial entities have been enthusiastic about supporting this new South American “export product.”  At a meeting with DART in March, HSBC expressed interest in financing buses and fare collection, making use of its “expertise in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects and accessing financing through involving Export Credit Agency (ECA) at affordable cost.”  The World Bank has provided $190 million in International Development Association credit to Tanzania, part of which will cover the construction costs for DART’s Phase I.  As reported in the Daily News, the World Bank’s top official in Tanzania, John McIntire, “said that Tanzania made the right choice when adopting DART system [and] that the country has emulated other mega-cities in the world that had introduced the similar systems.”

At a certain point, however, emulating other mega-cities and following the “recipe” can distract from important local concerns.  At the August 2010 inauguration of DART construction, Tanzania’s president referenced local concerns about the international nature of project financing somewhat dismissively:

“This is an opportunity for local investors, particularly the private sector, to team up and import quality buses that will operate once project construction is over. Don’t just remain idle complaining about the arrival of foreign investors,” he said.

The president thanked the World Bank for donating funds for the project and asked for more support as the country implements other city-based road projects.

BRT is trending globally, and the term has propagated rapidly without being clearly defined.  By indiscriminately aggregating a wide range of transportation projects in the nebulously defined category of BRT, planners risk overlooking fundamental differences in operating characteristics and contexts.   The 2009 Miami junket of three DART officials is illustrative:

The three DART officials who benefited from the program were Cosmas Takule, DART Chief Executive Officer, Enoch Kitandu, Director of Systems and Operation, and Peter Munuo, DART Operations Manager…

According to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Miami was chosen for this two-day professional program because of its well-planned and extensive “BusWay,” and its transportation system through various municipalities and that connects with adjoining counties. The 20-mile stretch of the Miami BusWay is the United States’ longest bus rapid transit line. The Tanzanian officials had a tour of several of Miami’s ethnically diverse neighbourhoods and rode the Metro mover which operates in a loop around downtown Miami. They also had an opportunity to meet with Miami’s chief transportation engineer to discuss environmental considerations relevant to the Dar transportation project…

Takule, who lead the Tanzanian delegation, reported, “The tour of Miami’s beach promenade gave us a chance to note that the paths along the beaches are potentially lucrative recreational areas if properly developed and cared for. As such promenades attract local and foreign tourists, they are a catalyst for other services such as restaurants, hotels, shops, marine transport and sports. The Dar es Salaam coastline has all the same potential develop its beach in the likeness of the Miami Beach promenade.”

“All said, the trip was an eye opener, educational, challenging as well as highly interactive with professionals in the Bus Rapid Transit industry worldwide. Every occasion was an opportunity to learn through observation, listening, dialogue and Q&A in an effort to get as much out of the trip as possible. The knowledge we gained will surely be reflected in better planning, designing and operations of the DART system,” he concluded.

The South Miami-Dade Busway operates in a former rail right-of-way, while DART’s Phase I will operate in the median of existing roads.  Miami-Dade County has a monopoly on public transit, while DART will have to negotiate with thousands of smaller operators.  Miami’s Busway feeds into a heavy rail system (at the Dadeland South Station), while Dar es Salaam lacks rail rapid transport.  Socioeconomic differences between the two cities are profound, yet these can be glossed over and politicians can justify such an international trip using the BRT label.  “Miami’s beach promenade” (which is miles away from the busway) can offer little insight into addressing the pressing institutional and bureaucratic issues that are delaying DART’s implementation.  But perhaps seeing how some portion of this Brazilian/Colombian recipe can be implemented both in developed Miami and developing Dar es Salaam can encourage policymakers to move forward in addressing the unique institutional and implementation challenges they face.

Project Delays

Phase I of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya BRT (more soon) was opened in 2009 after less than three years of planning and construction, despite the minibus industry’s violent opposition.  If Dar es Salaam’s system indeed opens in 2012, as is now planned, the project will have taken ten years to plan and construct.  Given the extensive technical and financial support described above, the reason for such a protracted implementation schedule is clearly not related to engineering or funding.  Project delays center on governance issues.  Expropriating property for bus terminals and depots is currently a hurdle.

In February, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government toured DART construction sites and voiced his concerns about expropriations:

In order for the DART project to be implemented faster than it is now, the Minister requested the people affected by project to collect their compensations rather than keeping on going to court to demand amounts of compensations whose evaluation standards do not adhere to the laws of Tanzania.

He warned those who are still nursing the idea of resisting to vacate the sites earmarked for the project on baseless grounds including ballooning of compensations and injecting ghost names in order to get illegal money. He said the adamant in this case will only force the government to apply force to evict them instead of using negotiations.

The Minister of State blames residents whose properties are being taken by eminent domain for making unreasonable demands, but government officials themselves have reportedly been equivocating about compensating these residents:

[City Council Director] Mr Kingobi said it was not the obligation of the city authority to compensate city residents, whose properties will be demolished to pave way for the project, saying: “It’s the government responsibility to pay compensations – not the city authority.” He added: “In fact we are also longing for the project to take place, believing that it will easy transport woes in the city.”

Last week, [National] Minister of Works Mr John Magufuli expressed concern over the delays by the city authorities in effecting compensations to city residents where the project will pass.  According to Mr Magufuli, the World Bank (WB) has already disbursed the project fund and contractors are in place ready to start the project, but dilly dallying in paying compensations is halting the project initiation.  He warned that if the city authority will not take immediate measures to pay compensations, his ministry will start to demolish places where the project is expected to pass.  The Dar Rapid Transit Agency Chief Executive Director was not immediately reached to explain the quandary on who should pay the compensations to allow the project implementation.

DART had authorization for its Resettlement Action Plan in 2008, but delays in compensating property owners are still holding up progress.  Clear lines of responsibility are lacking, and this deficient institutional structure will likely cause further delays.

Integrating existing operators with the new system may also lead to delays.  BRT has the potential to serve as “a means toward transit system regulatory reform,” but policymakers in Dar es Salaam are unclear on how BRT will or should affect the livelihoods of the city’s 3100 daladala owners.  At my meeting in the World Bank office, the transport expert asserted that the challenge was to “somehow make them involved in the management of the new system.” Dr. David Mfinanga, a professor associated with ACET who researches daladalas and is also a member of DART’s Board of Directors, told me that the government needed to address the sector’s “fragmented ownership,” since daladala operators will be a part of the nation’s transportation for a long time to come.  He described different scenarios of integrating daladalas with BRT, both as DART employees and as feeder services, and he cautioned that expecting them to form companies and compete in an international bidding contest is “insulting to them.”

Even if the city hires management consultants chosen by the minibus sector, as Johannesburg did, negotiations with daladala operators will continue decades into the future.  As discussed in The Transmilenio Recipe, ten years after the implementation of Transmilenio, three-quarters of passenger trips in Bogotá are still made with the old colectivo service:

There are many Mexican mayors and governors who promised or are now constructing BRT corridors.  Many of them made the decision after traveling to Bogotá.  They should understand that the inauguration of a BRT line represents just the beginning of the road and not the goal, an ingredient and not the complete recipe.

Political work is far more challenging and fundamental than new buses and fancy stations.  In short, the thousands of Tanzanians who are “[a]waiting Dar es Salaam rapid transit elatedly” will have to be content waiting a while longer.