13 May, 2016
According to numerous statistics, private car ownership will continue to grow exponencially, next to the increase of purchasing power, in Chile. It is remarkable the contrast of the present situation in countries such as Sweden or Germany, where car ownership has decreased in the last years and people opt for public transportation and biking (“End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile”). The key of this disparity is the access to a good quality public transportation system.
If as predictions indicate, car ownership increases in Chile, it is obvious to expect congestions in big cities and increases in travel time, having a negative impact on citizens well-being. However, the growing purchasing power is not the only factor that incentivizes car ownership but also the current situation of public transportation. Firstly, public transportation’s quality is bad, and users are not satisfied, grading the service with a score of 3 out of 10, in the last poll. Secondly, Chilean society perceives public transport as old and outdated, and users, mainly on big cities, use it poorly. For instance, we can see in this article that more than 25% of people who use public buses in the capital, do not pay. Lastly, being cars perceived as a high quality, flexible and efficient transportation mean, citizens prefer it, even tough they are aware of the environmental impact.
In front of this reality, the government is working to improve public transportation in Chile. Along these lines, the Division of Regional Public Transport was created in 2013, forming differentiated teams each focused on the necessities of the inhabitants of a different region. This has already had a great social impact, reducing the price of 3.000 transport means and the increase on accessibility in rural areas, allowing for example around 42.000 kids of rural areas and limited resources to have free scholar transport.
Next, we present the key objectives the government is working on to increase Chileans’ quality of life through better public transportation. It is important to highlight that the points are strictly related to Smart Cities’ innovation, and by 2020, the State expects to have achieved them.
– Guarantee service’s quality and operational continuation through the mass use of automated data capture systems and an integrated management of mobility.
– Increase the amount of information available, and at the same time, increase the number of alternatives to travel. Then, people would be able to plan travels integrating different transport means and make decisions before and during travels.
– Make public transport accessible in all rural areas where supply is really small. Moreover, there is a high demand to connect rural areas with urban ones.
– Offer more security at a national level, adding monitoring technologies and automatic control of velocity and other variables, with the aim to obtain indicators that allow to take focused, preventive actions.
– Invite citizens to design and creation processes of new technological solutions through mobility innovation ecosystems. The State recognizes the importance of Chileans’ collaboration to construct Smart City models.
– Increase sustainability and decrease urban public transport externalities by using technologies and strategies that determine the optimal number of travels, reduce the carbon footprint and decrease the environmental impact of transport means.
– Establish intelligent paying methods, after the minimal operational and sustainability conditions have been fulfilled, in order to facilitate inter-modality.
– Achieve the recognition of a good quality public transportation system by the population. And for the transport department to be recognized as efficient, modern and transparent.
Through achieving these objectives, it is expected a change in the proportion of public transport usage versus private in Chile. Specifically, a 44% of travels are going to be by public transport versus a 56% by private transport means; while without any changes of the current situation, the latter would be 68%.
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