Curitiba is the state capital of Parana in southern Brazil. It has a population of around 2million. Three times mayor Jaime Lerner put Curitiba on the map in 1971 when he began his audacious urban planning programme. Now it is internationally recognised as an example of successful sustainable urban living.

Jaime thought that sustainable city management should tackle 4 main issues: Traffic, recycling, affordable housing and green spaces.


The first major change Jaime brought about was to prioritise pedestrians over cars. To this end, he pedestrianised the main street in the city centre Rua XV de Novembro. This was highly controversial at the time, local people and especially business owners did not want the project to go ahead. Therefore Jaime organised the pedestrianisation so that it was completed in just 72 hours. Afterward, his critics had to agree that business had increased and it seemed that Jaime had been right.

rua xv de novembro curitibaPhoto of Rua XV de Novembro, Curitiba (credit: Gazeta do povo)

The next project on Jaime’s list was to prioritise public transport over cars. To do this he identified the five major highways in and out of the city centre and then he forbid the building of any major development which would increase traffic to occur anywhere except for along these five routes. This meant the traffic issues could be tackled by installing BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). BRT is a trinary structure where the central lanes are reserved for the buses only (emergency vehicles are allowed to use them on urgent calls), the next lanes are for local slow-moving traffic such as local delivery vans or cars, and the outer lanes are for fast-moving traffic which is traveling for some distance before filtering into the slow lanes for turning off.

trinary brt curitiba(Boise Planning)

The BRT has stops every 500m, the frequency of buses is up to every 50 seconds in rush hour and it is said that no-one has to walk further than 400m to reach a bus stop. The fares are very affordable and are paid at the stop instead of on the bus. The stops are shaped like tubes and the double or triple articulated buses have several doors for entering or leaving the bus. The doors of the buses include an automatic ramp bridge that falls level with the stop, therefore people can board or alight quickly, including wheelchair users or passengers with a pushchair, the elderly and the infirm.  The largest BRT vehicles can carry up to 270 passengers each. All of these features mean that the BRT is fast and efficient, making it much more likely that citizens of Curitiba will leave their cars at home and use BRT instead. In fact, 65% of the population uses it every day and on average there are 1.3 million passengers daily. This has resulted in 40 million fewer car journeys in the city annually which also means 40 million fewer litres of fuel that have been burnt. This not only saves fuel for the future but also results in much less air pollution. Other benefits are vastly decreased traffic congestion, faster journey times and fewer road traffic incidents.

brt stop

A clip of the BRT in action can be found here.

Recycling, Green Spaces and Affordable Housing in Curitiba coming soon.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom says:

    What has stopped other countires/cities from adopting this system

    Liked by 1 person

    1. geographycatblog says:

      Excellent question! In fact there are several more BRT systems in Brazil, including Rio. Several more across South America, including Bogota in Colombia and Buenos Aires in Argentina. There are around 30 in China, including Beijing and Shanghai; several partial BRTs in India, several in Canada, more in the USA. There are 4 BRT lines in Jerusalem, Israel; Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa both have BRT; Jakarta in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpa in Malaysia; some in South Korea, several in France, some in Finland including Helsinki, Barcelone and other in Spain, Bangkok in Thailand. Plenty in Mexico, several in Spain including Barcelona; Stockholm in Sweden and a BRT is under construction in Belfast. There are more but that gives you a flavour! Of course they’re all slightly different, some are only partial when compared to Curitiba which was the first (1974) and which is still expanding and improving, and generally considered to be the best example. Notably there is a functional BRT in Lagos run by LAGBUS (!), and which has been the cheapest per kilometre to contruct so far.


  2. Tom says:

    What exam board is the Gsce board using for geography?


    1. geographycatblog says:



  3. Tom says:

    Is it worth looking at a past paper


    1. geographycatblog says:

      It’s a new syllabus so there aren’t really any exact past papers as such, the questions we’re using for your exam are from AQA, for this new syllabus though. The questions we’ve done for your previous mini exams are from them too, so we’ve been doing everything we can to point you in the right direction. Therefore I think the answer is probably no, don’t look for a past paper because the questions and mark schemes have changed so much. Give me 10 minutes and I’ll blog about exam tips. Watch this space.


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