Santiago has greenest urban transport system in Latin America

A report from Economist magazine’s analysis unit praised Chile’s capital for its integrated transportation network, along with its policies for reducing vehicle emissions.

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A new ‘green cities ranking’ for Latin America places Santiago’s transport system in a class above the rest.

Chile’s capital is the only city out of the 17 analysed in the Latin American Green City Index to score ‘Well above average’ in the transport category.

The report, carried out by Economist magazine’s respected Economist Intelligence Unit for German engineering conglomerate Siemens, notes that the city’s public transport system is underpinned by a metro and a “bus rapid transit” system and is supported by a large fleet of feeder buses providing integrated coverage across the city.

Its 90 km Metro system, with five lines reaching various points across the city, carries 2.3 million passengers a day.

The city has also adopted several traffic management measures to reduce congestion, including traffic light sequencing, a traffic information system, “no car days” for vehicles without catalytic converters that reduce their emissions, and some toll roads.

Reliance on bus transport is being reduced and lower-emission buses are replacing older models, while the city plans to open a sixth metro line by 2014 that will cover a 15 km route and improve the metro’s integration with rail and bus networks.

Santiago, with around 6.8 million people living in the Metropolitan Region, was also found to be “above average” in its disposal of waste, its use of water and sanitation, though it was ranked lower in the categories of energy and Co2.

Several green initiatives were highlighted in the report, including plans to develop 3,900 hectares of city areas into public parks and a program to encourage more community participation in recycling.

The Santiago Metro has in place several initiatives to cut CO2 emissions and reduce electricity consumption by 35 gigawatts per year, the report notes, equal to the electricity consumed by about 19,400 households per year. This will include an automated train control system to improve energy efficiency and the use of more efficient lighting in stations.

The government also announced a programme in 2009 to subsidise the purchase of high-efficiency electric vehicle motors by companies in the industrial sector.

This post is also available in Spanish