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Bogotá’s integrated public transport system to finance hybrid and electric buses

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Some 282 clean technology buses will replace aging and polluting public transport vehicles serving residents of Bogotá, Colombia, in an IDB program financed by the Clean Technology Fund. The new buses will reduce operating costs, improve air quality, and cut GHG emissions.

Bogotá is a leader in innovative urban mass transport solutions. It is expected that the present program will serve as a model for other cities in the region.

The project. The Technological Transformation Program for Bogotá’s Integrated Public Transport System is will be financed by a CTF loan for US$40 million.

The CTF resources will finance sub-loans for the purchase of hybrid or electric buses with a capacity of up to 80 passengers for the Integrated Public Transport System (SITP, after its initials in Spanish). The concessionary terms of the CTF financing will provide the low interest rates and longer repayment and grace periods needed to finance the clean technology vehicles, whose initial investment costs remain higher than diesel-powered vehicles even though their operation is more cost effective.

The national development bank Bancóldex will extend the CTF financing to local financial institutions, which in turn will provide credit lines to transport service providers (SITP concessionaires). Bancóldex will co-finance each vehicle purchased with an amount equal to that provided by the local financial institution, resulting in a total investment of US$80 million.

Investment in new vehicles for the SITP will amount to approximately US$840 million over the concession period of 24 years. In order to meet these investment requirements, SITP concessionaires firms can either use their own capital or obtain financing through local financial institutions.

Designed in 2009, the SITP is being implemented gradually to ensure a smooth transition to the new operating system. The system consolidates the city’s public transit service in 13 zones, each of which is granted to transportation firms in the form of concessions. These companies are principally the operators of the city’s traditional fleet of buses, minibuses, and microbuses. The present number of these vehicles, which far exceeds the existing passenger demand, produces congestion. In addition, their aging condition produces high levels of emissions, helping to result in some of the highest levels of air pollution of any city in Latin America.

The SITP complements Bogotá’s Bus Rapid Transit system known as Transmilenio, which presently consists of 116 kilometers of exclusive lanes for high-capacity buses. These corridors currently handle 31 percent of public transport trips. The remaining 69 percent are served by the traditional public transport fleet, which the SITP will gradually replace. It is expected that the number of buses will be reduced from 16,000 to 9,900 while replacing diesel buses more than 12-years-old.

Climate change impact. Implementation of the CTF co-financed investments will result in direct GHG emissions reductions of 6.325metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in average and 151,800metric tons over 24 years (SITP concession period. This indicator reflects reductions of GHG (CO2) from the implementation of the pilot fleet which implies elimination of 1.6 conventional buses per each new technology vehicle incorporated. The total implementation of the SITP in Bogotá over a 24 year period, will lead to a GHG emissions reduction of 2.2 million metric tons.

The emission reductions will result from reductions in the size of the city’s bus fleet, optimization of the transit routes, reductions in the average age of the fleet, and technological improvements in diesel engines and hybrid and electric buses.

High-priority on transit. The IDB’s Country Strategy with Colombia identifies both low investment rates and management deficiencies in the urban transportation sector as the main obstacles to improving public transit service. The CTF-financed program will help to overcome these barriers. In addition, the program is aligned with the objectives of the IDB’s Ninth General Capital Increase and contributes to institutional priorities regarding climate change and environmental sustainability.

Lessons learned. In the same way that the Transmilenio system has been replicated in over 30 cities around the world, the SITP model has a high potential for being adopted by other cities seeking an integrated multimodal transport system that is both well organized and environmentally sustainable.

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