Mexico City’s Metrobus project received the 2009 Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership from Harvard University. Metrobus is a sustainable transit project in one of the world’s most populated and congested cities.
“Metrobus, which focuses on massive transport systems and better vehicle fuel efficiency, has shown to be a viable and economically efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gloria Grandolini, World Bank Director for Mexico. “Mexico is at the forefront when it comes to implementing this type of projects and once again demonstrates its willingness to improve the environment,” she added.
By introducing cleaner, more efficient buses, and convincing many commuters to leave their cars at home, Metrobus has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from Mexico City traffic by an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 tons a year. In addition, the project removed 800 polluting minibuses from the road and encouraged greater use of sidewalks and bicycles throughout the city.
The World Bank has supported Mexico’s efforts to attain a sustainable environment with loans totaling US$2.7 billion for the 2008-2009 period. The projects seek to integrate environmental considerations into public policies, in order to increase competitiveness and economic and social development while simultaneously protecting the environment.
After several years of planning and development, Metrobus opened in 2005 along 20 kilometers of the central transport artery in Mexico City, Insurgentes Avenue. In 2008, the route was extended an additional nine kilometers. At the end of that year, Metrobus extended its network by launching the Eje 4 Sur corridor, which added 22 kilometers to the system.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has applauded the Metrobus system, saying he wants to extend the system to 10 bus lines. “If we make it greener,” he said of his city, which is known for its extreme pollution, “the city will be able to survive.”
“This model is transferable to cities throughout the developing world – cities that are wrestling with the dual problem of moving people around in a highly congested area, while combating very high pollution levels,” said Henry Lee, director of the Environment and Natural Resources program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, in announcing the 2009 award winner.
The partnership was selected from a group of highly qualified nominated projects from around the world that tackled tough environmental problems ranging from clean fuel adoption to nuclear waste clean-up. More than 20 experts both inside and outside of Harvard reviewed the nominees.