Urban Fold

Curitiba Fails to Keep Up With its Vaunted Reputation

The waning popularity of its transportation system and the lack of attention to its lower-income population has put Curitiba’s “reputation as an urban planning model” on the line.

Curitiba has been known for its excellent urban planning, but the city's messy reality is drifting further from its exulted image. Flavie Halais reports that the once-celebrated Bus Rapid Transit system "has become overcrowded and expensive, pushing people into their cars." This Brazilian state capital is also faulted with ignoring its growing lower-income suburbs, leaving residents detached from "most of the planning interventions that Curitiba is known for - public parks and green spaces, pedestrian streets, preservation of the historic district."

"The misfortune of the BRT speaks to the larger failings of the city governance in Curitiba. Once praised for its impeccable urban planning and innovative interventions – the city pretty much invented the term "urban acupuncture" – Curitiba now seems to be suffering from a certain inertia."

"An estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population still lives in substandard housing, and 83 percent of the population in the metropolitan area earns a low to moderate income (less than five monthly minimum wages). Crime is high, with 4.7 murders on average each day. That's 56.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, a rate almost as high as New Orleans' (58 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011.) These figures aren't bad by Brazilian standards. But Curitiba was supposed to be different than a typical BRIC city."

Thanks to Akemi Leung

Full Story: Has South America's Most Sustainable City Lost Its Edge?

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