This section presents a specific case study that demonstrate the viability of analyzing and implementing a sustainable mobility plan for Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó neighborhood, Montevideo.
5.1. Mobility Analysis and Survey
This subsection describes the studied area and the methodology for collecting and analyzing mobility data.
5.1.1. Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó Neighborhood
Engineering Faculty (Facultad de Ingeniería) is the school in charge of engineering and other technology-related studies within Universidad de la República, Uruguay. In 2020, the Engineering Faculty has 10,350 students, 915 professors, and 195 administrative employees [46
]. All these persons have specific mobility demands to access to the institution.
Engineering Faculty is located in Parque Rodó neighborhood (South of Montevideo). A map of the studied area is presented in Figure 4
. The studied area covers 0.5 km
and includes three main avenues: Herrera y Reissig, where Engineering Faculty is located; Sarmiento; and Sosa. Nearby the Engineering Faculty is Aulario Massera, a large classroom building shared by Architecture, Economics, and Engineering faculties.
Engineering Faculty has two parking lots with parking capacity for about 140 vehicles. The building also has bicycle parking (open from 7:00 to 23:00 from Monday to Saturdays) with security monitoring and a parking capacity of 330 bicycles. The bicycle parking has restrooms with showers and lockers to promote students using their own bicycles for traveling. This facility is under current norms for bicycles parking in public institutions, according to the administration of Montevideo.
Engineering Faculty has been promoting sustainable mobility initiatives. On June 2004, a group of professors founded “Unibici”, a program to promote the use of bicycles between students. Moreover, Engineering faculty worked together with the city administration of Montevideo to create bike lanes in a circuit connecting faculties of Universidad de la República. However, the project has not been completed yet.
5.1.2. Motivation and Objectives of the Study
The main motivation of the study is to understand the mobility demands to Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó neighborhood, and also from Engineering Faculty surroundings to other zones of the city. This is a relevant case study, which includes a variety of interesting features: Parque Rodó is a residential area, but also has a high education center (and others in the surrounding area), a shopping center nearby, several health centers in the zone, and other services. The objective of the study is to identify, analyze, and characterize the current situation regarding mobility and sustainable mobility in the studied zone, for different groups of people. This is a different study to the one performed to characterize sustainable transportation and sustainable mobility initiatives in Montevideo (reported in Section 4
). In the case study in Parque Rodó, the study is based on data collected in situ and the opinions of interviewed people are taken in consideration.
The analysis of the current mobility situation provides quantitative and qualitative information for a systematic characterization of mobility demands in Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó neighborhood. Moreover, the survey allows determining if the studied groups of people would be willing to change to more sustainable transportation modes and the specific issues that prevent them to make that change.
5.1.3. Methodology for Collecting Data
The methodology applied for gathering mobility information on the studied area consisted in collecting the information of the universe of study and performing a survey in situ.
Four relevant groups of people were identified: (i) students of Engineering Faculty and other faculties that shares Massera classroom building, (ii) professors and employees of Engineering Faculty, (iii) people who live in the neighborhood, and (iv) people who work on the neighborhood.
The total number of people involved in the analysis was 617 (79 living in the area + 538 commuting from other zones of the city). Thus, the study considered a sample size of 2.15% for the analysis of the mobility situation of Parque Rodó neighborhood. The estimated size of the relevant universe is 28,602 persons, including people that live in the studied zone; students, professors, and employees of Engineering Faculty; and persons that commute to the area from other zones of the city. The sample size considered in the survey is significantly larger than the one used is similar initiatives. For example, the mobility survey for Montevideo [38
] studied 2230 homes, interviewing a total number of 5946 persons, which represent a sample size of 0.4% of the urban population of Montevideo.
By considering not only Engineering Faculty, but also the surrounding neighborhood, the survey intends to capture a more holistic view, taking into consideration the different groups of people that travels to/from the studied area.
A survey was formulated to know the mobility characteristics of the studied groups of people. The survey included the following questions.
Do you study or work at Engineering Faculty?
Do you travel often to this area?
What is the origin and destination of your trip?
What transportation mode(s) do you use for commuting to study/work in the neighborhood or from this neighborhood to other zones of Montevideo?
If you use more than one transportation mode, specify the percentage of utilization.
How often do you make these travels weekly?
Which aspects are the most relevant for you while commuting?
Would you be willing to switch to a more sustainable transportation mode?
To what transportation mode would you be willing to change?
What do you think it prevents you to change to a more sustainable mobility ?
The survey was performed face-to-face to people circulating in the studied area. Interviews were performed in different locations, including the front door of Engineering Faculty, five bus stops located less than 300 m of the faculty, a bakery located 100 m from the faculty, the front door of Franzini football stadium, and also in random locations at streets in the zone: Julio Herrera y Reissig, Itapua, Ibiray, Patria, José Figueira, Eduardo Garcia de Zuñiga, Benito Nardone, Julio Maria Sosa, Carlos María Maggiolo, Sarmiento, Senda Nelson Landoni, and Bulevar Artigas. People were not interviewed at home, because the main interest was in specific mobility demands (e.g., people attending to Engineering Faculty, moving from/to work, or moving to shops in the area).
The questionnaires were performed during 15 November–15 December 2019, from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Weekend trips were not considered in the analysis because they are significantly lower than working days trips. Engineering Faculty offers just a few classes on weekends (just on Satuday morning, for some sporadic activities) and commercial activity in the studied zone is also reduced on weekends. People who commute in sustainable transportation modes were not asked if they would be willing to change towards a more sustainable transportation, as they already do it. The study also gathered information of bus lines that operates in the zone and identified the bus stops near the faculty. Scooter stations and bicycle lanes were also identified.
5.1.4. Methodology for Data Analysis
The study applies a urban data analysis approach, accounting for relevant data from the survey and also information from public sources.
Regarding the methodology applied for data analysis, the study analyzes global characteristics of mobility demand in the area. Some indicators used for the global case of Montevideo are studied, e.g., coverage and commuting travel time, as defined in Section 4.3
. In addition, other relevant aspects related to the sustainable mobility characterization are analyzed, such as travel distance and modal-choice preferences for trips. Travel distance is defined as the distance that a person travels from any point of the city to the centroid of the Parque Rodó neighborhood. All distances are computed using the Google Maps service. Modal-choice preference of commuters is defined as the decisions taken by individuals to chose one transportation mode instead of another. The reason for the choice is linked to several factors, including affordability, travel time, comfort, accessibility, and sustainability.
Furthermore, the study analyzes the quality of service of existing mobility options through mobility preferences while commuting, such as cost, comfort, speed, security, sustainability, and other valuable interests for citizens. The studied mobility preferences may not correspond to the transportation mode that people use today, but to modes that they are willing to use if those preferences and related issues improve.
Some indicators analyzed in the case study of Montevideo are not taken into account in the study of Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty. For example, affordability or access to mobility service indicators are not computed, mainly because of two reasons: (i) from the point of view of the price of mobility services, prices are the same for all zones in Montevideo, thus the main results reported in Section 4
also holds for Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty neighborhood, and (ii) most of the studied universe consists of middle/high income people, which normally can afford all transportation modes (this fact is confirmed by the low number of trips from/to those zones of the city with the lowest income per capita, which is below 8%).
5.2. Analysis of Results
This subsection reports and discusses the most relevant results of the study. The most relevant results of the survey are presented on graphics, tables, and maps that allows characterizing distances, transportation modes, and other relevant features related to sustainable mobility in the studied zone.
Coverage. The studied area is fully covered by all the studied transportation modes (bus, bicycles, and electric scooters). Seven bus lines operates in the neighborhood, directly connecting people with many zones in the city. Furthermore, all locations in the city can be accessed via transfer trips. Although bus-only lanes were defined in main road and avenues of Montevideo, they are not defined in the studied area, so buses share the road with private transportation.
However, just 47 trips of the electric bus (3.6% of the total trips performed in 2016–2019) operated in lines that serve Parque Rodó neighborhood. Regarding bicycles, the current public system does not cover the studied area, but it is projected to be covered in the expansion, as reported in Section 4
. Engineering Faculty provides the bicycle parking and other services for students, professors, and workers that use this transportation mode. Scooters operates all through the zone, having five stops near Engineering Faculty. Figure 5
present a coverage map of the studied zone, highlighting bus line routes and stops, scooter stops, bicycle parking areas, and bicycle lanes. The bicycle parking of Engineering Faculty is distinguished as it provides covered parking, security, and showers.
. Regarding the transportation modes used by people commuting to/from Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty, Table 5
reports the number of trips using each transportation mode declared in the survey and the percentage that it represents over the total. Transportation modes are listed from more sustainable to less sustainable.
According to the results reported in Table 5
, just 19.3% of the trips to/from Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó are done using sustainable transportation modes. Overall, more than half of the trips are done using the bus. The number of trips using other non-sustainable transportation mode is 13% (mainly private cars, just 1.4% on motorcycle), almost the same than people walking to/from the studied area. Bus is the most popular transportation mode, mainly because it is the most accessible and affordable transportation mode for large distances, as confirmed by the accessibility and affordability analysis of transportation modes for the city on Montevideo, reported in Section 4.4
. A summary of distances traveled by people from/to Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty is reported in the pie chart in Figure 6
. Travel distances were calculated in Google Maps considering the origin the Engineering Faculty and the destination the neighborhood people reported.
The analysis of travel distances indicates that 60% of the surveyed people commute from a maximum distance of 5 km away, and one-third of them travel between 2 to 3 km away. In addition, just 20% of the surveyed people commute a distance greater than 10 km. Furthermore, 95% of them declared to do a round trip, and 90% commute to the same place with a frequency of three times a week or more. These results confirms that the mobility demands in the studied zone follows a regular pattern, and that sporadic trips do not contribute significantly. Thus, the proposed approach, based on the analysis on frequent trips, provides a realistic characterization of mobility demands to/from Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty.
Transportation modes by distance
. Figure 7
refines the analysis of transportation modes, considering the average distance for each surveyed trip.
The analysis of data reported in Figure 7
allows concluding that walking is the most popular transportation mode for distances less than 2 km, followed by bicycle and bus. For distances between 2 and 5 km, bus is the most popular transportation mode, followed by walking and bicycle. For distances longer than 5 km, bus is still the most used transportation mode, followed by non-sustainable transportation modes: car and motorcycle. Overall, the large number of people commuting to Parque Rodó and Engineering Faculty using non-sustainable transportation modes suggests that there is room to improve towards sustainable mobility in the studied area. Especially, 56.4% of trips using bus indicate that significant improvements to the service are definitely possible, by using electric buses. Specific actions can be also proposed to consider people traveling on car and motorcycles. This issue is studied in the following paragraphs, considering the information about preferences and motivations collected in the survey.
Commuting travel time
. The combined analysis of distance and transportation modes allows computing the average commuting travel times for people commuting from/to the studied zone. In this regard, Table 6
reports the average travel times from/to the five most demanded origin/destination of surveyed trips, grouped by neighborhoods of Montevideo. The distance for each neighborhood is measured from Engineering Faculty to the centroid of each neighborhood.
Results reported in Table 6
indicate that bicycle is the fastest transportation mode from distances shorter than 3 km. Scooter and bus are second and third regarding travel times, respectively. Considering that bicycles have no cost (either for using private vehicles or the public service projected for the zone) for up to 30 min, the bicycle is the fastest, most affordable, and most sustainable transportation mode for short distances. For distances between 3 km and 8 km, bicycle is the fastest transportation mode too, but a relevant issue that must be taken into account: when traveling long distances, commuters must consider that they might need to shower/change clothes due to the physical effort required, which would demand from a few to 10–15 additional minutes. Then, bus takes approximately the same time (i.e., 10 min more, but with no need to shower/change clothes) and scooter requires about four minutes more than bicycle, but considering that users can leave scooters in any place and there is no need to shower/change clothes, it is the fastest transportation mode. For distances larger than 8 km, all the studied transportation modes takes approximately the same time, so it is reasonable that most people use the bus, which is the most comfortable transportation mode, as reported in the previous analysis of transportation modes by distance.
Aspects people prioritize while commuting
. Figure 8
summarizes the results of the analysis of those aspects identified as more relevant for people while commuting. The reported results are not necessarily linked to the transportation mode people use today, but to aspects they prioritize when commuting.
The analysis of the aspects people prioritize while commuting indicates that 44% of the interviewed people prefer arriving faster to their destinations than other aspects. Comfort is the second feature more valued by the surveyed people (22%), and cost in third place (17%). Results obtained in the survey confirmed that aspects people prioritize do not depend on the distance or the travel time. In general, speed, comfort, and cost (in that order) are mentioned as priorities in declarations by surveyed people.
Overall, one conclusion can be formulated from the obtained results: public bus is the only transportation mode that could offer the three aspects people prioritize, in case it improves the actual service conditions. The other studied transportation modes cannot offer those three aspects, mainly because some of the are expensive (like private vehicles), ans several others require a physical effort and/or they are not comfortable in adverse climate conditions (like bicycle and scooter).
Willingness to change towards more sustainable transportation modes
. The study interviewed 617 people, 504 of whom commute in non-sustainable transportation modes and 113 in sustainable transportation modes (bicycle or walking). Of those 504 people, 468 would be willing to change to sustainable transportation modes. This is a very relevant result, and is accounted as an empirical metric to determine the public acceptance of sustainable transportation modes within the people interviewed in our research. Furthermore, it is a first hint of the positive views towards sustainability, which can be confirmed by performing similar interviews in other (representative) neighborhoods of Montevideo. Figure 9
reports the results of the analysis of the sustainable transportation modes people would be willing to change.
According to the results reported in Figure 9
, electric public transportation is the mode that most of the people would be willing to change (64%), followed by bicycle (32%). Considering that CUTCSA and other bus companies plan to develop the modal shift from diesel to electric buses after evaluating the results of the pilot plan explained in Section 4
, the willingness to change can provide a big leap in sustainable mobility in the studied area.
Taking into account the aforementioned results, the study analyzes next the reasons why people would like to change and why they do not actually change to both preferred transportation modes (electric bus and bicycle).
The reasons why people are willing to change to electric bus are mainly related to be part of initiatives oriented towards decarbonizing public transportation to reduce climate change and mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuels. Energy efficiency is also a motivation, especially considering that Uruguay is one of the leader countries in renewable energy in the world and it has a surplus of generated energy (over 98% of it generated from clean resources, according to reports for 2019 [47
]). These opinions are in line with recognized benefits that electric public transportation provides to to the communities they serve (improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, financial benefits related to reduced maintenance and operating costs, and avoiding healthcare expenses) [48
On the other hand, Figure 10
summarizes some reasons why people might not change to electric public transportation. The analysis considers that no modifications on the current routes and frequencies will be associated to the electric bus, which will operate on the same conditions of the actual service (as suggested by the pilot plan implemented by CUTCSA).
Regarding the results reported in Figure 10
, the study collected opinions of 49 persons that travel in cars and would be willing to change to electric public transportation. However, most of them declared they will not change in case the bus will be inefficient, slow, untidy, with low frequency, and not direct. Additionally, 151 persons that travel today by bus would be willing to change to electric public transportation, even though most of them declared that they would also like to be faster, more comfortable, and more direct.
According to the survey, 149 persons reported that they would be willing to change to bicycle as transportation mode. In turn, 114 persons declared the reason why actually they do not use bicycle for commuting. The reasons why people are willing to do that modal change are related to the main benefits of riding a bicycle regarding health and also because it is the cheaper transportation mode, just as reported for the case of study of Montevideo.
On the other hand, Figure 11
summarizes the main reasons why people do not change their actual transportation mode to bicycle. Results correspond to 114 persons (eight traveling by car and 106 traveling by bus), who gave additional information about the reasons that prevent them to switch to bicycle. Car travelers mostly indicated the main reason is the reduced traffic safety, mainly because the few bike lines available in the city. In turn, bus travelers declared the main reasons for not using bicycle are the lack of proper facilities (e.g., their workplace does not offer a parking bicycle), they do not have enough space at home, and because they cannot afford a bicycle. Most actual bus travelers mentioned that they would use a public bicycle system if it was operating in the area.
5.3. General Recommendations for Sustainable Mobility Initiatives in Parque Rodó Neighborhood and Engineering Faculty
This subsection provides specific suggestions and recommendations for improving sustainable mobility in the Engineering Faculty and Parque Rodó neighborhood. Recommendations and suggestions are based on the review, main results, and analysis of the mobility demands of the studied area, reported in previous subsections, especially considering the following concepts; the aspects related to accessibility (explored from the point of view of the infrastructures and services and and also from the point of view of people that commute from/to the studied area); the detected mobility patterns; and the motivation and opinions of interviewed people, which in fact constitutes a direct contribution of our research, as no previous similar studies have been developed in Montevideo.
One of the main facts observed from the analysis is that the studied area is fully covered by all the studied transportation modes (bus, bicycles, and electric scooters). This fact makes it easy connecting people with other zones of the city directly or via transfer trips. However, in terms of sustainable mobility, the neighborhood is not covered by the public bicycle initiative, which was analyzed for the case study of Montevideo, and the electric public transportation of the pilot plan of CUTCSA developed during 2016–2019 only performed 3.6% of the total trips traveled through the studied area. In this regard, one of the main recommendations is related to expanding the coverage area of public bicycles, by introducing bicycle stations in this area and design an articulated network of exclusive lanes, which also will help to improve other indicators, besides coverage.
Regarding the used transportation modes, more than half of the trips from/to the studied area are made by bus. For distances longer than 2 km, bus is the most popular transportation mode. Furthermore, 64% of the interviewed people that travel using non-sustainable transportation modes would be willing to change to electric public transportation. In addition, results of the study confirmed that people will not change to electric public transportation if the conditions of the service remain as nowadays. This is an important result because the pilot plan implemented by CUTCSA was developed in identical conditions than the actual service, regarding routes, bus stops, travel times, and other relevant indicators. In this regard, several suggestions are related to improve public transportation, in order to provide more useful and efficient sustainable transportation systems.
According to the commuting travel time indicator, some people declared they are not willing to change their actual transportation mode for electric public transportation because buses are very slow, they have many stops, low frequency, and routes are not direct. Thus, some suggestions for the new electric public transportation relate to introducing lines with fewer stops and higher frequencies than the current service to allow commuters, especially those whose trips demand more than 50 min (10 km), arrive faster to destination.
In terms of comfort and pleasure, bus companies can offer a better quality of service by improving the comfort of vehicles. Some ideas to give users a better service in terms of comfort and pleasure include improving travel conditions (e.g., appropriate space, air-conditioning, and free WiFi), guaranteeing universal accessibility, providing accurate real-time information via mobile applications and digital screens in bus stops, reducing motor vibration and noise, among others.
Regarding infrastructure, in 2010 Montevideo incorporated bus-only lanes in main roads and avenues, to avoid traffic congestion and speed up public transportation. However, bus lines that circulate through the studied area still share the same lane with other transportation modes. In this regard, the studied area has few wide avenues to install bus-only lanes; e.g., Herrera y Reissig, which crosses Parque Rodó neighborhood, has only one line in each direction from Sarmiento to Sosa (end of the avenue), thus including a second (bus-only) line would require a major infrastructure modification. However, mobility can still benefit for installing bus-only lines in Bulevar Artigas or in Herrera y Reissig (north, where there is space available). Regarding infrastructure for bicycle, considering the surveyed responses, two relevant suggestions are formulated to foster the modal shift: (i) bicycle lines should be extended, at least to include the projected line that will reach Engineering Faculty (which is planned since 2013, and has not been constructed due to non-disclaimed reasons); (ii) in addition, companies located in the zone and also in the main destination neighborhoods should be encouraged to provide bicycles parking within workplaces and also restrooms with showers, to be used by employees after the physical effort required for a ride.
The reported results, descriptive statistics, and suggestions are very valuable for the city administration in order to conceive an effective sustainable mobility plan in the studied area.
Finally, we acknowledge the implicancies of the reported analysis on policies and decision-making related to two relevant research and development initiatives our research group is currently participating on: (i) local sustainable mobility plans, developed by Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mining through the MOVES project, and (ii) project “Spatial, universal, and sustainable accessibility: characterizing the multimodal transport system of Montevideo, Uruguay”, developed with the support of the local administration (Intendencia de Montevideo), with the main goal of creating valuable knowledge and formulate specific policies to develop and improve mobility and accessibility. Some specific examples that can benefit from the analysis reported in the previous subsection for Parque Rodo neighborhood are the redesign of bicycle lines in the zone and the planning of a route for the electric bus to provide mobility services to Engineering Faculty and other faculties in the district (Architecture Faculty and Economics Faculty).