Dan Bus Company seeks 'Brazilian transport revolution'

Curitiba has become a global model for effective and environmentally-friendly urban planning.

big bus curitiba 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy: Luan Lenon)
big bus curitiba 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy: Luan Lenon)
The Dan Bus Company, which serves large swaths of central Israel, has contacted Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai over a proposal to implement a "public transport revolution" in the city. The proposed innovations will include specially designed, fast-moving buses that operate like light railway trains, a Dan company spokesman said during an annual public transport conference held Tuesday in the Dead Sea area. During his speech, Dan spokesman Eitan Fixman repeatedly referred to a documentary recently aired on Channel 10 about Jaime Lerner, the former Jewish mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, who introduced the Bus Rapid Transit scheme to his city. In Curitiba, bus stops resemble light railway stations, featuring moving platforms, from which urban commuters board enormous high-speed buses carrying hundreds of people. The buses have their own exclusive lanes, and the city has become a global model for effective and environmentally-friendly urban planning. It is reportedly free from traffic jams. "Let us copy this perfect model in Curitiba directly to Israel," Fixman said. He dismissed plans to construct a subway system for Tel Aviv, saying, "instead of wasting billions on underground tunnels, let's get rid of the millions of cars polluting our city center. We should build a cheap, efficient, clean transport system." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Fixman described the transport system in Curitiba as inspirational. "Dan wants this in Israel - the company's CEO, Rafael Shmuel, is going for this. We have contacted Tel Aviv's mayor about this, and I believe he is going to join us," Fixman said. But Moshe Tionkin, chairman of the Transportation Authority for the Tel Aviv Municipality, said, "The city of Tel Aviv can't do this alone, we don't have the authority. The Transportation Ministry does. These bus lines don't start and end in Tel Aviv, they extend to its suburbs. I wish we could reach an arrangement with Dan for a Tel Aviv-only bus system, but we can't." Tionkin noted that Huldai had hosted Curitiba's mayor as an official guest of the city of Tel Aviv. He recalled that the Transportation Ministry rejected an idea to operate a network of minibuses in residential areas a few years ago. This failed proposal also imitated the Curitiba system. Tionkin said he hoped next year would see the commencement of "a new organization of public transport for the whole of Gush Dan, changing things which have been in place for 70, 80 years." Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz was supposed to attend the forum, but did not arrive due to an unexpected vote of no-confidence in the Olmert government. The government's decision in December 2007 to rescind the Public Transport Security Unit attracted continued protests from bus companies during the meeting. "We must not abandon the lives of millions of commuters. Mr. Mofaz, I implore you to act immediately to reinstate the unit in order to provide security. Every wasted minute could bring about a disaster," Fixman warned. In April, a number of Israel's private bus companies threatened to remove their fleets from central bus stations across the country if the government failed to bring back the security unit. Ilan Karni, who represents the companies, said the situation has since improved. "We now have a government commitment - but no money yet - to having security guards in central stations. The stations are now guarded, and are secure," he said.