As the city government of Buenos Aires has taken on the project to implement a new form of public transportation–the Metrobus, it has initiated a massive construction project on major avenue 9 de Julio and stirred up local controversy along with it.
The idea behind the Metrobus is simple in theory– the new system was envisioned to address the city’s chronic transit issues by facilitating public transport. This new method would allow for about 200,000 passengers to travel along 9 de Julio every day at the price of rearranging the avenue that it divides and uprooting trees that lined the centre of the street. Although the city has assured that 108 of the 169 trees uprooted for the project will be replanted, this issue and other environmental concerns worry a lot of citizens that believe the environment will be unnecessarily harmed by the project.
Another concern is that the new Metrobus is to be positioned over a subte line that runs directly beneath it. Some believe that even if there is no structural conflict between the two, which Metrobus service will be redundant and make public transportation in the city more inefficient. Others are more generally concerned that the project is overall mismanaged and poorly planned.
On the flip side of the debate, supporters of the progressing Metrobus transport system feel that the project was inaugurated in the best interest of the city and will greatly benefit people who commute through the area. They think that the environmental issues will be handled as best as they possibly can be and that the doubts about planning and concerns of the project are minimal, or at least overshadowed by the benefits.
The Argentina Independent found out what locals have to say about the issue while construction for the project has recently begun. We asked them to give us their opinions about the key issues. Here are some responses from interested citizens that we talked with.
Photos by Terra Borody
The truth is, to me it really seems like a good idea. To me it (the Metrobus) seems like it’s going to be very useful because it will be faster. I usually take the bus, but I think the Metrobus would be faster in getting me to my university. Yeah, I think it seems like a great idea. Aside from that, as the line cuts the avenue down the middle, it will get preference over the regular buses. It will divide up where cars, buses, and the Metrobus are all supposed to go, so I think this will make traffic flow smoother overall. With respect to the issue with the trees and all of that, to me it seems fine that they are uprooting them and transplanting them somewhere else. And then, I believe, they are going to plant new trees, which honestly to me seems like it will be perfect, since they won’t really be losing the trees at all.
I don’t agree with it. There is a subte that passes underneath it that runs from Constitución to Retiro. 9 de Julio is an avenue that always has a terrible traffic problem, and what’s going to happen is that this (Metrobus) is going to take up a really big space on the avenue, force other traffic to the outside, and cause more congestion. I also don’t agree with the taking of the trees. The project was executed poorly and there has not been any transplanting of the trees… To be honest, not only am I angry about this project, but I am absolutely furious with Macri’s government in general.
We already have about four lanes and a subte in this area… so why do we need a Metrobus? For peak hours? I like the idea of getting people out of cars and into buses, but why not just use one of our existing lanes for the metro bus instead of creating a new one? Sure, the subte isn’t open late, but how many people travel this direction at night anyways? Why not use the subte system we already have and extend hours? We’re paying more now, so the service should be improved anyways. It seems obvious why those who made this decision did so in the first place– they don’t even use public transport!
I think it’s really going to facilitate transit in the area. It’s going to get you where you need to go 15-20 minutes faster than if you were driving in a car… and, well obviously the line is not very long yet, as the construction project has just started. However, once it gets further along there should be stops back to back all the way down the line and it will be really convenient… so it will be very helpful for people on their way to work and other things. So once they get it all worked out I think it will be perfect. For now there are a lot of people who are upset about part of 9 de Julio being closed, but once it’s reopened (with the Metrobus) I think it will be awesome and you will be able to commute really well. When they finish it’s going to be simple and it’s going to facilitate transit for everyone and we’ll be able to get places more quickly.”
I don’t have a strong opinion fully formed yet about the Metrobus project. But I agree with what they are doing because it seems like it is something that will benefit the city. We always have issues with traffic here and I think the Metrobus will help out with that, so I support the idea of the project.