An interview with Dino Buzzi, Director of Planning, Use and Evaluation at the Government of the City of Buenos Aires/Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires

 

City Voices is an Urban Mobility Weekly initiative highlighting the work that our city partners are doing to improve and advance the mobility landscape for their citizens. Talking with key city officials, the series will focus on how urban communities are overcoming challenges, finding solutions, and seizing the opportunities to render mobility more sustainable, accessible, intelligent, and inclusive.

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Interviewed by Shashwati Shankar, Project Manager and Content Advisor at Autonomy Paris

 

  1. Can you share with us a brief data overview of Buenos Aires?
  • Population: 2.891.082 inhabitants (census 2010)
  • Pop density: the city has 200 km2, and its population density is 14,450 x km2. It has 48
  • neighbourhoods that are grouped into 15 communes.
  • Modal share: 29,3 % public transportation, 20,2% walking, 10,2% by bike, 35,8% private
  • car, 2,8% taxi, 1,8% other.
  • Infrastructure
    • +274 km of protected cycle paths and bike paths
    • 280 Ecobici stations
    • 6 Subway lines and the Premetro
    • 32 bus lines that start and end their route in the city.
    • 136 lines that circulate through the city
    • 52 km of highways
    • 8 Metrobus corridors (this year we will add 2 more)
    • 8 Transfer Centres
    • An Urban Mobility Management and Monitoring Centre
    • Places to park: 386,460 spaces allowed to park during the day and 468,864
    • spaces allowed to park overnight
  • Air pollution indicators: transport represents 33% of the total CO2 emissions of the City.
  • Number of traffic accidents and their classification by reason and mode of transport:
    • During 2020, 82 fatalities were recorded due to a road incident in the City of
    • Buenos Aires, which represents 20% fewer deaths than the previous year.
    • In relation to the type of deceased user, all registered fewer fatalities. The
    • majority were pedestrians (43%), followed by motorcyclists (35%), car
    • occupants (16%) and cyclists (6%). In sum, almost nine out of every 10 deaths in
    • road incidents had vulnerable road users involved (motorcyclists, pedestrians
    • and cyclists).
    •  Regarding the modal share during the pandemic, it is observed that bicycle trips increased 27% (in 2019 there were 320,000 annual trips and in 2020, there were 405,000), while the death rate decreased.
    • Traffic incidents continue to be the main cause of death in young people. 54% of the fatal victims were between 25 and 54 years of age; while the second group is the age range from 15 to 24 years. The average age of the deceased is 44 years.
    • Regarding gender; 8 out of 10 fatal victims were male. The most prevalent fatal incidents are pedestrian incidents (the previous year, there were collisions between cars and motorcycles).The car is the main factor involved in pedestrian deaths followed by passenger transport and motor vehicles. Together, these typologies account for 40% of the cases.
  • Car ownership: there are 1.568.685 cars in the city.
  1. How did the pandemic affect Buenos Aires’s mobility? And what were the measures and policies adopted to tackle its impacts?

During the pandemic, mobility in the City has reached historic levels: trips by public transport was significantly reduced as many people chose private transportation and the bicycle was the only means of mobility that grew. Since the beginning of the lockdown, public transport – trains, subways and buses – were used exclusively by essential personnel with a circulation permit. In addition, we have adopted various safety and hygiene measures, such as the mandatory use of face masks, social distance demarcation at stops, the obligation for passengers to travel seated, andwe have increased the frequency of disinfection and cleaning.

Currently, there are no longer restrictions on public transport and all subway and train stations have been reopened. The use of masks is still mandatory as well as the opening of windows to ensure air circulation. Although there are no longer any limitations, by the end of February 51% of the trips that in 2019 were made by subway daily, 56% by train, and 67% by buses. 98% of pre-pandemic vehicular traffic circulates on the City’s highways.

  1. Nowadays, what are the main mobility challenges faced by Buenos Aires, in terms of mobility?

Restoring the citizens’ confidence in public transport transport and maintaining  a reduction in the number of fatalities resulting from road incidents, while promoting Sustainable Mobility and our goal is to reach one million daily bike trips. In order to do that, we will encourage more efficient use of urban logistics while transforming the city into a more walkable one.

  1. According to these 8 main categories: Active & Micromobility, Shared Mobility, MaaS – Ticketing and Payments, Smart City Services, Corporate Mobility, E-Mobility and Infrastructure, Urban Logistics and AV’s and Technologies, in terms of city mobility policies, which directions does Buenos Aires city envision?

Active & Micromobility

We’re committed to reaching 1 million daily trips made by bicycle by 2023.So far In 2020, we reached 403,000 daily trips. Now, we are going to start the second stage of the skateboard pilot test with stations on public roads and a fleet of 250 skateboards.

Smart Mobility:

We conducted agreements with applications such as Waze, Moovit, Google, Ualabee and developed the Unified Transportation API that presents data from the City’s buses, trains, subways, parking lots and cut-offs in real time so that multimodal routing applications can easily integrate the information of the different modes of transport and thus reach the residents.

Since 2018, the Urban Mobility Monitoring and Management Centre has been operating. This is a centre with advanced technology that centralizes all transport and mobility information in real time. The integral corridor of Del Libertador Avenue has a system of intelligent adaptive traffic lights that optimize times and traffic flow, improving the circulation of private vehicles. In addition, the traffic lanes are maintained.

Urban logistics:

We evaluate and continue to study the performance of electric vehicles in last-mile distribution in order to encourage the incorporation of cleaner fleets and reduce air quality and noises from the logistics sector in the City.

  1. Can you tell us about the new concept of a Shared Street in Buenos Aires?

In the last 10 years, we have noticed that there are large avenues with a lot of space for cars, but not enough space for pedestrians and bikes. We saw that as a result of the pandemic there was a big jump in the use of bikes. So we decided to create this concept of the shared street in Avenida del Libertador which is very characteristic, with an urban landscape and beautiful architecture, but it is also one of the corridors that has the most cyclists going through. We decided to reclaim this space for cyclists and pedestrians. Important to note this avenue is also a metropolitan connection, so there will also be space for public and private transport. The concept of a Shared Street allows all modes of transport and all users to have the same level of accessibility to urban mobility, in a comfortable and safe way.

  1. What is the plan for the project and how many people will stand to benefit from it?

We will have bike lanes facing the north and south direction and also incorporate safer infrastructure for people to wait at bus stops, specifically targeting elderly people, young moms with children or people with disabilities. The project is divided into 3 parts and it is currently in the process of being implemented. It will be a complete transformation of the landscape in Avenida del Libertador. We will intervene in 11 kilometers of Avenida del Libertador. Besides incorporating space for pedestrians, creating unidirectional bicycle lanes on each side of the avenue and creating new platforms for bus stops, we will be adding new trees in the path, and implementing technology to improve vehicular circulation. We have a diverse range of people that will benefit from this project and we estimate that a total of 250,000 people are going to benefit from this project when it’s completed.

  1. What technologies does the city believe in and encourage? Any future plans you can share with us?

We believe that technology is the key that allows improving the quality of public transport and the travel experience, such as for urban logistics, mitigation of climate change and clean mobility, and promoting new modes of transport such as shared cars or bicycles. Neighbours are already looking for new ways of moving, shopping, studying, looking for larger public spaces for recreation and urban life. As the government of Buenos Aires, we must promote and facilitate these transformations, improving urban coexistence and incorporating all the benefits of technology and digital innovation. In the City we developed the API system with open transport data that today allows all applications (Ualabee, Google Maps, among others), and even BOTI, the City’s chatbot, to access information in real time to provide it to the passenger. The future has to be headed towards more travel planning, more predictability. And also travel quality: seat reservations, more information about how you are going to travel. Perhaps, incorporate means of payment in your cell phone. Regarding urban logistics, we encourage the use of cleaner fleets to reduce noise pollution and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Regarding the technology to manage traffic to improve its flow, we are going to incorporate an adaptive traffic light system in 20 new intersections (already present in 15). This system obtains the vehicular demand and the occupation of each lane at every moment and allows special events to be foreseen and traffic light cycles to be changed in real time. Where it already works, it has been possible to reduce user travel time by up to 21% and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 200 tons per year.