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Ecuador has launched a national initiative to develop an integrated strategy for improving the efficiency and sustainability of freight and passenger flows in large urban centers. The Center for Latin-American Logistics Innovation (CLI) in Bogotá, Colombia, is coordinating one of the projects in collaboration with several institutions including Polytechnic University in Guayaquil, San Francisco de Quito University, Nacional University of Asunción in Paraguay, and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint Etienne in France.

The overarching aims of the initiative are enshrined in the country’s new constitution, which was established in 2008. Central to the constitution is the idea that social, environmental, and economic goals can be reconciled. In the context of urban mobility, this involves the development of systems that efficiently move passenger and freight while also meeting the country’s sustainability goals.

The country has created a Strategic Mobility Plan that guides transportation policies for the period 2013 to 2037. Ecuador plans to invest more than $118 billion during this period on the development of a new integrated national transportation system.

An area of focus is the country’s major cities. The two largest cities, Quito and Guayaquil, accounted for about 26% of the country’s 14.5 million inhabitants in 2010. If the surrounding areas are included, the two urban centers are home to about 35% of the country’s citizenry. Moreover, the populations of these two major urban centers are growing, putting more pressure on the supporting transportation infrastructure. About 30% of Ecuador’s inhabitants – 45% if surrounding regions are included –are expected to be living in Quito and Guayaquil by 2020.

Traditionally, the country’s urban planners have given precedence to passenger traffic, and especially private cars. Part of the new strategy is to take a more balanced approach to traffic planning, particularly in sprawling urban centers. Another goal is to develop logistics solutions based on reliable data and best practices; up until now, the emphasis has been on traffic planning policies that introduce constraints to ease congestion problems.

CLI along with its partner institutions are developing models for managing traffic flows in Guayaquil and Quito. They are also looking at ways to minimize logistics costs and streamline the movement of goods in these cities. For example, they are working to identify where road traffic bottlenecks occur, the impact of consumer buying patterns on freight flows, and which routes serve local communities most efficiently. The project is funded by Ecuador’s Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, and Technology (SENESCYT), a government organization that channels funds to top universities in the country. Participating institutions are contributing funding and expertise, because many of the issues being researched affect urban centers in other parts of Latin America.

An important goal of the project is to establish a knowledge base that other countries and cities in the region can draw on and, ultimately, build on. Also, by developing traffic management solutions in a systematic way using the technical skills of leading research institutions, the researchers hope that policymakers will gain more confidence in new approaches to traffic planning.

For more information on the research project contact Nicolas Giraldo, Academic Leader/Post-Doctoral Research Associate, CLI, at: or Fernando Sandoya, Professor ESPOL at:

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