In Brazil, there is a substantial gap between the number of people using public transport in the cities and the available public infrastructure. This gap is the result of significant growth in the urban population in recent decades, the excessive number of vehicles on the roads and the difficulty in establishing a long-term plan for Brazil's transport system.

Challenges of urban mobility

Urban mobility projects are highly complex and often involve all levels of government (ie, local, state and federal). This complexity is most evident in metropolitan regions. Urban mobility projects also significantly affect the use of urban areas and the residents of these areas (eg, they can result in relocations and environmental issues).

In addition, problems arise with regard to both public and private financing. Where projects are structured as public-private partnerships, the main challenges include a lack of short and mid-term budgetary resources and the difficulties surrounding structuring sufficient guarantees from the relevant public authority.

However, recent experience indicates that the most pressing issue may be the lack of a consistent, long-term urban mobility plan. Without a long-term plan, there is a risk that projects will compete with one another in terms of user demand, which in turn will hinder the economic feasibility of individual projects and the urban transport system as a whole.

Urban mobility: a priority

A sign of how urban mobility has become a priority, particularly in larger cities – not only for local and state governments, but also for the federal government – is the fact that the Growth Acceleration Programme, Phase 2 (PAC 2) comprises 362 urban mobility projects in various regions.

Further, the Brazilian Development Bank has been working to develop a transport network restructuring model which can be replicated largescale, with adjustments for local requirements and regulations.

Metropolitan authority: part of the solution?

Within metropolitan regions – where the difficulties associated with urban mobility increase exponentially – the establishment of a metropolitan authority may be part of the solution.

The entity could be set up as a public consortium and act as the central authority, working alongside the states and municipalities which are part of the metropolitan region. The authority would be responsible for conceiving and assisting in the implementation of transport policies, guidelines and a long-term urban mobility network plan for each metropolitan region.

The authority would also play a major role in analysing and validating projects in terms of their technical and economic impact on the transport system as a whole. Finally, the authority would coordinate the efforts to consolidate the interests of various stakeholders in the urban mobility sector, thereby minimising complexities.

Claudia Elena Bonelli

Ana Cândida de Mello Carvalho 

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.