The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), together with an international committee of transportation and development experts, awarded Mexico City the 2013 Sustainable Transport Award for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, cycling and walking infrastructure, parking program, and revitalization of public space. Established in 2005, the Sustainable Transport Award recognizes leadership and visionary achievements in sustainable transportation and urban livability, and is presented to a city each January for achievements in the preceding year.

The Sustainable Transport Award was presented to Mexico City on January 15, 2013 at an awards ceremony during the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, one of six major divisions of the U.S. National Research Council. ITDP board president and former Mayor of Bogotá Enrique Peñalosa presented Mexico’s Minister of Transport, Rufino Leon, and Minister of Environment, Tanya Muller with the award. The former Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, who oversaw much of Mexico City’s sustainable transport projects, made closing remarks at the ceremony. Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, delivered the keynote address.

Mexico City has implemented many projects in 2012 that have improved livability, mobility, and quality of life for its citizens, making the Mexican Capital a best practice for Latin America. The city expanded its BRT system, Metrobus, with Line 4, a corridor that extends from the historic center of the city to the airport. It also piloted a comprehensive on-street parking reform program (ecoParq), expanded its successful public bike system (Ecobici) and revitalized public spaces such as Alameda Central and Plaza Tlaxcoaque.

The finalists and winner were chosen by a Committee that includes the most respected experts and organizations working internationally on sustainable transportation. The Committee includes:

• Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
• EMBARQ, The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport
• GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
• Clean Air Asia
• Clean Air Institute
• United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)
• Transport Research Laboratory
• EcoMobility, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
• Transport Research Board’s Transportation in the Developing Countries Committee (ABE90)

“Mexico City was like a patient sick with heart disease, its streets were some of the most congested in the world”, says Walter Hook, CEO of ITDP, “In the last year, Mexico City extended its great Metrobus BRT system straight through the narrow congested streets of its spectacular historical core, rebuilt public parks and plazas, expanded bike sharing and bike lanes, and pedestrianized streets.  With the blood flowing again, Mexico City’s urban core has been transformed from a forgotten, crime ridden neighborhood into a vital part of Mexico City’s future.”

“We congratulate the Federal District of Mexico for their leadership in advancing sustainable transport. Celebrating success is a way to highlight best practices; many cities will find inspiration in your great achievements. At EMBARQ, we look forward to deepening our ties and collaboration with all the 2013 STA recipients. Just like in Mexico with our center, EMBARQ México, partnering with the Federal District, our other centers around the globe collaborate with cities on low cost, safe and effective alternatives to improve the quality of life and health of their citizens and reduce GHG emissions”, said Holger Dalkmann, President of EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport.

“Sustainable transport systems go hand in hand with low emissions development and livable cities. Mexico City’s success has proven that developing cities can achieve this, and we expect many Asian cities to follow suit, ” says Sophie Punte, Executive Director of Clear Air Asia.

Four additional cities received honorable mentions at the Sustainable Transport Awards:

• Bremen, Germany for sophisticated car sharing and non-motorized transport programs, leading to 60 percent of trips being made by cycling or walking. The honorable mention award was accepted by Michael Goltz-Richter, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Mobility. “Bremen has shown the world, through its car sharing concept, that cars are just another mode of travel. While, public transport, walking and cycling are the crux for creating a livable city and cars are only a small part of the big picture.” Says Santhosh Kodukula, Global EcoMobility Coordinator, ICLEI.

• Lviv, Ukraine for overall improvements to public transport, walking, cycling, and traffic calming for the EURO2012 soccer championship. The honorable mention award was accepted by journalist and activist Myroslava Gongadze. “The STA is truly an international award and a recognition for achievements in sustainable urban mobility”, said Armin Wagner, Senior Transport Advisor for GIZ, “Recognizing Lviv sends a strong signal to other cities in Central and Eastern Europe that the development of cycling and the preservation and expansion of public transport are crucial to fight rapid motorization and its negative effects.”

• Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the launch of Rio’s first world-class BRT corridor, Transoeste, and expansion of cycle sharing. The honorable mention award was accepted Joaquim Monteiro de Carvalho, Under Secretary of Transport.

• Rosario, Argentina for the adoption of a comprehensive new mobility plan, prioritizing circulation of public transport in central areas, developing an extensive network of bikeways and their plans to implement a bikeshare program. The honorable mention award was accepted by Diego Leone, Under Secretary for Public Works. “Mexico City and Rosario are remarkable examples of the rising leadership and long-term commitment from Latin American cities towards sustainable transport, climate change mitigation and clean air. Rosario has recently adopted a comprehensive Integrated Mobility Plan based on an ambitious long-range vision, a solid technical design and an inclusive consensus and alliance building process.” Says Sergio Sanchez, Executive Director of Clean Air Institute, “A skilled and visionary team, led and largely comprised of women, has been behind these significant planning and implementation efforts. This team has been an extraordinary partner to disseminate lessons learned and best practices from all over the region and elsewhere.” 

Past winners of the Sustainable Transport Award include:  Medellín, Colombia and San Francisco, United States (2012); Guangzhou, China (2011);  Ahmedabad, India (2010); New York City, USA (2009); London, UK (2008); Paris, France (2008); Guayaquil, Ecuador (2007); Seoul, South Korea (2006), and Bogotá, Colombia (2005).