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Santo Domingo moves forward to implement its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan

04 Mar 2022

 

After the adoption of Santo Domingo SUMP in 2019, local authorities have undertaken concrete actions to transform urban mobility in the city. Mobility conditions are expected to radically change with the implementation of an integrated public transport system, the deployment of electromobility, the promotion of active modes, and the management of traffic and urban logistics. 

The challenge of transitioning from planning to action  

Santo Domingo’s authorities had to transition from planning to implementation by translating a large set of SUMP measures into a shortlist of priority projects. While the SUMP provides a general overview of the vision of urban mobility in the city, short-term measures must become feasible projects to advance implementation. 

Interinstitutional coordination on urban mobility in the Dominican Republic is a challenge as many public authorities at the national and local levels have to interact for decision-making on urban mobility. Moreover, Gran Santo Domingo is a conglomeration of five municipalities with administrative autonomy. OMSA (a public bus operator) and the OPRET (Metro company) also play a role in the transport governance arrangement at the local level. Consensus among all the stakeholders is sometimes hard to reach.  

Early implementation of Santo Domingo SUMP is compelling since the road fatalities rate in the Dominican Republic is the highest in Latin America (34.6 per 100.000 inhabitants), and emissions continue to grow due to the widespread preference for motorised private modes by the citizens. Both private cars and motorbikes share 37% of the total daily trips in Santo Domingo.  

An enabling environment for sustainable mobility emergence  

Despite the mentioned challenges, Santo Domingo experienced a fertile environment to launch implementation after the SUMP adoption, starting with the institutional and legal framework set by the enaction of the National Law 63 of 2017 that defined the Dominican vision for urban mobility in the long run. This advanced instrument bridged the gap between sustainable mobility paradigms and the legal framework in the country, as for the first time a first-rate legal instrument was created under the principles of sustainable mobility: accessibility, human and urban development, road safety, environmental sustainability, and social engagement. 

As a result, the new national transport authority (INTRANT) was created, fulfilling a previously absent central planning role regarding urban mobility in Santo Domingo. INTRANT is a young public institution with clear leadership and a skilful team with a key orientation towards data-oriented decision-making. For INTRANT, the SUMP is the guiding policy document orienting actions on urban mobility. The plan emerged as a strong and consolidated planning instrument as it proposes an ambitious but realistic set of measures. With the creation of INTRANT, the implementation of the SUMP is now compatible with the organisational and institutional composition of the city and articulated with the ongoing projects for public transport expansion.  

 To leverage the favourable conditions for the SUMP implementation, the European Union provided financial support to Santo Domingo for EUR 10 million. This support is planned for four years and will be implemented by AFD through three workstreams: capacity building, pre- and feasibility studies, and pilot projects. In the framework of this technical assistance, the consultancy firm Egis became a SUMP technical advisor for INTRANT for the identification of priority projects and their implementation. 

In the first year, 18 SUMP projects were prioritised 

With the technical support from Egis, INTRANT has set four main priorities for the SUMP implementation through 18 projects:  

Integrated Public Transport System  

  • A new transport model is under development to support decision-making, assess scenarios and quantify the impacts of transport interventions. Beyond the construction of the transport model itself, the objective is building-capacities within INTRANT and training staff in its usage.  

  • The paratransit sector is experiencing a systematic transformation. 400 “conchos” (informal taxis) have been replaced by 30 buses in the first intervened corridor in Santo Domingo. The second transformed corridor was launched last month. This process is delivering parallel efforts to train former concho drivers now operating buses, increase operational and organisational capacities of former concho unions becoming bus operators, and define the role of INTRANT managing institutional relationships with the new bus operators. The overall paratransit reform seeks a transformation of the sector rather than a substitution, including the workers, owners, and authorities altogether.  

  • New mass transit projects are being structured. The feasibility studies for two BRT corridors of medium complexity are under preparation. Early implementation of these corridors is foreseen.  

  • The technical assistance has contributed to depict alternatives to reach fare integration and subsides. 

Electromobility 

  • The first BRT corridor is expected to be operated with electric buses, following the deployment of electromobility in the Dominican Republic. The technical assistance might support the construction of the bus depot for the corridor.  

Cycling  

  • A national manual to implement cycling infrastructure will be released with the support of the technical assistance. The manual will include both urban and rural cycling lanes and will enable the construction of tourism-focused corridors for active modes. 

  • 40 km of cycling lanes are expected to be implemented in the next three years, adding up to the already existing 10 km of the current network.  

  • A bike-sharing system might contribute to increasing public transport demand, as stations would be easily reached by users, both for metro stations and BRT stops. The system is under structuration.  

Traffic management and urban logistics 

  • Traffic officers are trained in good practices regarding traffic management and law enforcement aligned with the new law on urban mobility.  

  • A Regional Road Plan is under development aiming at defining a regional logistical network of major road infrastructure projects.  

The future of sustainable urban mobility in Santo Domingo  

The steps undertaken until now are just the beginning of a sustained process to improve mobility conditions in Santo Domingo. Many further steps are still to be completed to achieve the intended long-term outcomes proposed in the SUMP. The 18 identified and ongoing projects are the first round of priorities. Other studies, pilot projects and capacity development actions will be delivered according to the findings and results of this first implementation round. 

Santo Domingo SUMP has won momentum as the technical support provided by the European Union not only focuses on studies but also on capacity development and support to pilot projects, such as the adequation of cycling lines. Every day the INTRANT acquires more capacities and knowledge to face the future challenges that the transformation of urban mobility in Santo Domingo might entail. 

*This article is based on an interview with Juan Pablo Bocarejo – Director AIPMUS Santo Domingo - EGIS 
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