For economically developed countries and even more so for emerging nations the development of transportation and sustainable mobility are vital challenges: they condition access to work, education health services, services and consumer goods. They are largely responsible for a sense of freedom, well-being and autonomy. They are the object of complex strategies and massive investment in search of the ideal compromise between economic efficiency, ecological performance and social equality.
On this triple scale, some countries are still in the first phase: trying to limit the impacts of uncontrolled development and unbridled urbanization, which cause congestion, endanger the city inhabitants and stifle or paralyze the economy. Others have been investing for decades with a primary focus on sustainable mobility even in the smallest urban or economic project. Everywhere, however, projects are multiplying, often supported by sharing new ideas between countries, regions and cities from all continents. Thus EMBARQ, a multidisciplinary network of 120 experts, accompanies large sustainable transport projects in emerging countries (mainly Brazil, China, India and Mexico).
With strong political will progress can be very rapid and the effects spectacular. For example in Colombia, the capital city of Bogota has for long been a stereotype for urban chaos and random mobility. In a survey dating from 2007 CERTU (Centre for Studies on Road Networks, Transportation, Urban Planning and Public Construction) explained: "Up to 2001 transport developed without any organization or public investment with buses, minibuses and taxis overwhelmed by the general traffic: 28,000 private old and rundown buses stopped in the middle of the street, due to a lack of boarding platforms, just like the taxis, which greatly contributed to the urban chaos". Since Bogota deployed the Bus Rapid Transit, TransMilenio, with funding from the World Bank, it is now the system with the greatest capacity worldwide. It carries on average 1.7 million passengers daily with a bus every 63 seconds over a network of 84 km of dedicated lanes.
In short it’s not only in Berlin, Paris, San Francisco or Tokyo that the transportation of the future is invented and new forms of mobility are imagined for the urbanites. But Bogota, Beijing, Mexico, Shanghai and Johannesburg are also innovating. Under what conditions, with what constraints and what differences for what results? Here are some benchmarks and keys to understanding the issues.