ELLA Policy Brief: Capitalising on Public Transport: Reducing GHG Emissions in Latin American Cities


The transport sector is one of the largest contributors to global GHG emissions, both worldwide and in the Latin America region. In response, some cities in Latin America are taking steps to revamp their transport sectors as part of a strategy to mitigate GHG emissions. This Brief begins by discussing the environmental impacts of the transport sector before turning to three key Latin American transportation innovations: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems; bicycle lanes; and electric taxis. While stronger monitoring systems are still necessary, initial results do point to important mitigation effects in the cities that are implementing these new transportation options. Key contextual factors and lessons learned are also presented to help cities in other regions consider whether these types of innovations might work in their own contexts.

Key Lessons:

Although further research and evidence is required, preliminary results show that BRT systems, cycle paths and electric taxis are all helping Latin American cities to reduce GHG emissions.

The BRT system as implemented in Latin America has been shown to have relatively low implementation costs and is easier to construct than other large-scale mass transport systems. It may therefore be the more feasible option for cities that are experiencing growth and expansion.

The combination of the BRT system with other energy efficient options represents a significant opportunity for mitigating GHG emissions. Examples from the Latin America region that illustrate this potential include both the use of biofuels to power mass transport systems and the simultaneous implemention of both BRT and cycle path systems.


Baptista, V. G. S. ELLA Policy Brief: Capitalising on Public Transport: Reducing GHG Emissions in Latin American Cities. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 7 pp.

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