When you land at Curitiba Airport, you rapidly get the picture. Posters invite travelers to go into the city by bus and be “sustentavel” (“sustainable”). Outside, you then see the first “tube”, the nickname for the city’s bus stops, which look like pipes, with automatic doors to get in the vehicle, like in a metro.
Even during the rush hour, the network in the capital of Parana, designed in the 1940s by the French architect Alfred Agache and extended by the Mayor Jaime Lerner from the 1970s onwards, allows quite a smooth traffic flow, both by car and bus.
But Curitiba has seen its population leap in ten years from 350,000 inhabitants to 1.7 million today (3.5 million for Greater Curitiba), while resting on its laurels. It is consequently faced with a paradox. While it has a bus rapid transit (BRT) network (a model which Curitiba has “exported” all over the world), it is losing passengers and Curitiba is now the city with the largest number of cars per inhabitant (1.8) in Brazil.
Since 2007, AFD’s operation has been helping it address the main challenges of its climate agenda: improve the quality of transport in order to reduce the number of cars and GHG emissions, but also adapt to the impacts of climate change by creating an ecological corridor.
The city’s gradual extension by the South has not been combined with the solutions adopted in the North to regulate its river flows (flooding, pollution). This has proved damaging for the state of Barigui River, which is flanked by a number of informal dwellings. The ecological corridor financed by AFD is making up for this shortcoming and setting the city on a path towards adaptation to climate change.
It involves recovering biodiversity by redeveloping the river banks and creating four new parks. Residents in the illegal areas are either rehoused or can stay in their regularized homes. This project fits in with one of the initiatives of its future climate agenda – environmental development. It also involves urban revitalization (Green Line, LED lighting, green buildings…), urban mobility and the Smart City concept.
This revitalization is combined with an environmental education program, “Olho d’agua” (“eye of water”), in which students from 30 public schools in the area are participating by monitoring the quality of the water of Barigui River.
“This project will improve the quality of life for the residents of these low-income neighborhoods with free leisure facilities”, points out Leonardo Werneck, project manager at I Care Environment and a consultant for AFD. It has in fact completely transformed the area: “In the process, residents have started renovating their homes and new shops have opened.”
“Curitiba has always been a place where new things can be tested, in all fields, from creating parks to selective sorting and including the BRT concept, which was born here!”, says with pride Ana Jayme, Director of the Municipal Secretariat for Planning, Finance and the Budget. All this is concentrated in the “Linha Verde” (“Green Line”) project, which constitutes a real urban revitalization planned over a 30-year period.
This revitalization concerns some 20 neighborhoods which have sprung up along an old highway, which originally bypassed Curitiba by running across the South-east. As it is now an integral part of the city, a 6th BRT line, the Green Line, was added in 2009. It is planted with trees and also combined with a cycle track. Its extension towards the North, which should be completed next year, has been financed by AFD.
“The Green Line meets significant demand from the residents of the City of Curitiba and even though it is not finished yet, the positive results are unquestionable”, points out Leonardo Werneck. “Our forecasts show a real reduction in greenhouse gases”, he adds. The articulated buses on the Green Line run on biofuel, with the objective of eventually making them electric, whereas an increasing number of buses on other lines are hybrid (3.8% of the 1,500 buses currently in circulation, with a target of over 10% by 2020).
With this combination of efficient urban mobility projects and the redevelopment of all its natural components, the capital of Parana hopes to retain the advantages that make it an “exotic” city in Brazil: green, clean and well organized.