: Jose Enrique Pérez
Bus Rapid Transit has been a revolution in the field of urban mobility, improving the public transport conditions in many cities worldwide with a much-lower investment than other mass transit systems. Urban and transport planning, together with operational and technological solutions are intended to determine which technologies and design features need to be put in place in order to approach to address local urban and transport needs. Technical considerations constitute an essential part of the decision-making process but they are just one part of the whole answer.
Equally important are the institutional arrangements. This situation can be compared to the hardware and software within a computer system. Political arrangements need to be taken into account, as they are the software that will complete and allow for the operation of the whole system to work.
The definition of institutional roles and responsibilities, the coordination of planning organizations with focus beyond transportation, such as land use and public services, the coordination of duties and authority lines between organizations, defining the jurisdiction and/or ownership of the infrastructure and equipment, among others, are key elements that different successful cases worldwide have carefully considered.
There are plenty of examples of cities with BRT systems that could serve to illustrate the usual institutional arrangements adopted for their implementation. Five interesting cases are the ones of Bogota and Guatemala City, in America, Lagos and Johannesburg, in Africa, and Dhaka, in Asia. The fact that they are geographically spread provides a global vision of the institutional approach and a wider understanding of how the solution has been adapted to the particularities of each city.
These different models have been generally based on the separation of Policy, Regulatory and Operational functions. In all the successful cases analyzed the responsibilities of the different institutions involved have been clearly defined, assigning all the duties without causing problematic overlaps. In addition, the capabilities of the institutions to fulfil their assigned functions were ensured, identifying the main areas were training was needed and the professional staff required.
Leaving the institutional issues unaddressed most likely might result in unresolved constraints and obstacles to project implementation, thus reducing the effectiveness of the envisaged solutions to integrate urban and transport planning.