Friday, July 10, 2009

Okay, we may be losing this war but . . .

… if you keep looking about you will notice that there is more and more, and better and better, media coverage of the bottom line issues of climate, sustainable development and the role that sustainable transportation can play in the process. Today, for instance, there is an article in America's premier reference paper, the New York Times, in which Elisabeth Rosenthal reports on "Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities"

July 10, 2009, The New York Times

Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Like most thoroughfares in booming cities of the developing world, Bogotá’s Seventh Avenue resembles a noisy, exhaust-coated parking lot — a gluey tangle of cars and the rickety, smoke-puffing private minibuses that have long provided transportation for the masses.

But a few blocks away, sleek red vehicles full of commuters speed down the four center lanes of Avenida de las Américas. The long, segmented, low-emission buses are part of a novel public transportation system called bus rapid transit, or B.R.T. It is more like an above-ground subway than a collection of bus routes, with seven intersecting lines, enclosed stations that are entered through turnstiles with the swipe of a fare card and coaches that feel like trams inside.

Versions of these systems are being planned or built in dozens of developing cities around the world — Mexico City, Cape Town, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Ahmedabad, India, to name a few — providing public transportation that improves traffic flow and reduces smog at a fraction of the cost of building a subway.

But the rapid transit systems have another benefit: they may hold a key to combating climate change. Emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in the booming cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America account for a rapidly growing component of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. While emissions from industry are decreasing, those related to transportation are expected to rise more than 50 percent by 2030 in industrialized and poorer nations. And 80 percent of that growth will be in the developing world, according to data presented in May at an international conference in Bellagio, Italy, sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the Clean Air Institute.

To be effective, a new international climate treaty that will be negotiated in Copenhagen in December must include “a policy response to the CO2 emissions from transport in the developing world,” the Bellagio conference statement concluded.

. . .

* For the full text of this article, please click to

* See also their excellent slide show on Bogota's TransMilenio at

* There is a good video on the TransMilenio that you can pick up toward the bottom of the Times piece.

* But if you have any problem accessing it, drop us a line at or Skype us at newmobility and we will arrange to get you a full "fair use" copy.
A closing thought for you:
There is a not-slight chance that the Times and a number of the best of the long-established print dailies may not be around all that long -- and is it not thus ironic that this menace comes exactly at a time when they are making an ever more important contribution to public awareness of both the problems and the need for the kinds of new and less familiar measures that are definitely going to be part of the new mobility retrofit of our gasping sector? That's the bad news. The good news is that Elizabeth and the growing cadre of journalists and reporters who are running with our message are not about to go away. I am confident they will find other means for getting the news through. And oh yes, we will still be here.

Eric Britton, Editor

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