UNDP/GEF project work on first corridor of bus rapid transit in the CIS countries.

22 Jun 2015

Yelena Yerzakovich (UNDP in Kazakhstan)

Greater use of mass rapid transit system is a key proposal to provide better transport services in Almaty City – and is part of “The City of Almaty Sustainable Transport Strategy for 2013-2014”. 

Since 2012 UNDP/GEF project «City of Almaty Sustainable Transport» has been providing international technical assistance to the city municipality to offer a maximum number of efficient solutions during the design of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system. This assistance included financing pre-feasibility study and creating a pool of technical experts for the design phase. 

Buses carry the largest number of passengers. This is the reason why our project has recommended that in addition to developing the metro and light rail transit (LRT), the Almaty City municipality should also focus on improving the bus route network and on building BRT corridors. These would include a package of measures such as segregated bus lines, e-ticketing system, high capacity buses and other arrangements. The concept of five BRT corridors became part of City of Almaty Sustainable Transport Strategy for 2013-2023. All the more so because Almaty has good prerequisites to set up such corridors: proper road conditions in major parts of the selected streets; the level of demand for bus transportation services is from medium to high and the impact of considerable congestion that worsens during rush hours.

All these conditions mean that introduction of a well-planned BRT system will bring benefits to the city, save people’s time and reduce operational expenses. Besides, BRT corridors bring additional benefits, such as safer environmental conditions and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

City of Almaty Sustainable Transport started feasibility study and design of the first pilot corridor (20 km) in 2013, and these works are expected to be finalized by the end of this year. With support from UNDP project and Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), local road engineers, traffic and public transport specialists had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with existing bus rapid transit systems in China, the Netherlands and Colombia, and to discuss the peculiarities of their design and functioning with international experts during trainings and workshops with participation of international consultants.

To assist local specialists in April 2015 we translated the Guidelines “Traffic Safety Bus Priority Corridors BRT” into the Russian language.

These guidelines have been prepared within the framework of the initiative of World Resources Institute, EMBARQ and contain recommendations made on the basis of relevant data of design and planning which will help make the city streets safer for all road traffic participants. Experts provide convincing evidence that high quality of public transport systems can improve road traffic safety and reduce injury and mortality rates by 50 %.

Presently the critical factor of BRT project’s success is availability of experienced transport planning specialists, transport economists and traffic safety specialists in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, local universities do not offer such specializations, and road infrastructure engineers have to use old construction standards which were developed back in the Soviet Union and which do not meet modern requirements. That is why we have to carry out trainings, translate useful literature as much as possible, and disseminate guidelines of ITDP, EMBARQ, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) among specialists of various departments of both the municipalities, and State Construction Expertise (state body) of Kazakhstan. We hope that these efforts will help to quicker implement new projects on improving city mobility and as a result will make our city more attractive and comfortable for living.

You can see the Russian version of the publication here: http://www.kz.undp.org/content/kazakhstan/ru/home/library/environment_energy/_-_--_-_--_-_-_---/

You can see the original publication here:  http://www.embarq.org/sites/default/files/Traffic-Safety-Bus-Priority-Corridors-BRT-EMBARQ-World-Resources-Institute.pdf

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