Public transport needs political will

first_imgFOR MANY YEARS suburban rail services in the Brazilian city of São Paulo suffered serious neglect. The metro, in sharp contrast, offers a high quality service. It has attracted considerable investment, allowing it to grow into a 44 km network, with extensions and new lines under construction. After years of ignoring the deteriorating suburban railway, São Paulo has finally recognised that the services run by the Metropolitan Train Co CPTM have a major role to play in bringing mobility to the 15 million people who live in and around the city.Around US$1·2bn of public funds is being spent on modernising the 270 km network; this includes buying new trains, refurbishing existing stock, renewing track and signalling, plus constructing new stations, rebuilding old ones and laying new track in the eastern and western suburbs.Speaking to around 2700 delegates at the 52nd UITP Congress in Stuttgart last month, São Paulo State Metropolitan Transit Secretary Claudio de Senna Frederico said that the trains on five routes ’carry 1 million passengers a day, but demand is at least three times that number’. He envisaged that by working with the private sector it would be possible to launch new services and build new lines, possibly including one to São Paulo’s distant international airport. With the investment programme well in hand, CPTM will be offered next year to a private sector concessionaire, either as separate lines or as a single entity.If the programme succeeds, São Paulo’s rail network will be contributing to the UITP’s projected 50% increase in use of the world’s public transport by 2010, when 1700 million daily trips will be made. It will be a clear demonstration that public transport depends on political support and on close links with urban and regional planning – a point emphasised at the UITP Congress by outgoing President James K Isaac.In Stuttgart UITP delegates saw at first hand the fruits of such a policy. German operators now face the challenge of introducing regulated competition to drive down costs without destroying the carefully constructed packages of co-ordinated fares and services that have so successfully nurtured the growth of public transport. As President of Germany’s Association of Public Transport Operators Dipl-Ing Dieter Ludwig warned, ’there is no place for low-quality services in the German market’. Nor in São Paulo or any other city. olast_img

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