Curitiba- The City of Dreams
A typical Brazilian city, Curitiba has done an extremely good job in controlling some of the worst effects of urbanization. Curitiba’s population grew by 6 per cent every year in the 1950s, 60s and 70s due to agriculture becoming mechanized and fewer farmers were needed. This caused the people who lost their jobs to migrate to cities like Curitiba. They created squatter settlements around the city. However, Curitiba has developed unbelievably rapidly and the people of Curitiba say they live in the best place in the world. It all started with one man and a simple idea, prioritizing people over cars.
Jaime Lerner was an inspired student of architecture and town planning when he became mayor in the early 70s. At first his plan was to demolish old buildings and widen the main city street to cope with increase traffic. He expanded this idea and established a new ‘Master Plan’ in the 1960s. Its aim is to control urban sprawl, reduce city centre traffic congestion, provide affordable public transport and build more direct highways leading out of the city.
By the 1970s, the population of Curitiba had increased from 150 000 to 3 million and was clogged with cars. Lerner knew the solution was in public transport. So, he decided to create a new road system. Each road consisted of three different roads, one leading into the city, one leading out, and a central road with two way traffic and dedicated bus only lanes to speed passengers in and out of the centre. He also created the glass boarding ‘tubes’ as he realized the buses were slowed by boarding time, with people buying tickets on the bus. Now, buses in the city can carry 50 times more passengers than they did 20 years ago and all the buses are colour-coded and provided with the size of bus best suited to the needs of passengers using that route. In addition, the city introduced sight-seeing buses for tourists so they don’t have to use taxis or their own cars.