At the beginning of April the local government of Buenos Aires launched the scheme BA Elige (‘BA Chooses’) to take suggestions from residents, with the goal of working together to improve the City. To this end the City has pledged to invest AR $500,000,000 in the best ideas. The scheme has proved popular: less than three weeks later, more than 10,000 suggestions have already been made, some more feasible than others. Submissions are made online here.
The issues most plaguing the minds of porteños so far seem to be transit-related. Of the suggestions received, 36.8% have been related to traffic and transport, with more suggestions in this than any other category. Residents’ requests for improvements have included calls for more Ecobici stations and new Metrobuses. Someone also asked for a bus stop technology to show when the next bus will arrive, which they suggested run on solar power. This suggestion definitely seems reasonable when compared with the person who asked for an aerial tramway to run above Avenida General Paz.
Suggestions weren’t limited to public transport: people who drive chipped in too, asking for the possibility of paying parking meters using a SUBE card and looking for available parking spaces on an app. In some cases people requested a change in traffic direction on certain streets.
April marks the first stage in the BA Elige project. Residents are able to submit their suggestions until the end of this month. In May a new phase will begin, in which people have the opportunity to gain others’ support for the ideas they’ve submitted and increase their odds of being picked. The third stage will take place in June and July, when the government will analyze the ideas and consider logistics and plausibility against value. In August the final voting will be opened up to the public.
There are a couple of limits put on the nature of the suggestions though: they can’t require the modification of any current law, and mustn’t cause a running cost to the City once they’ve been implemented. Other than this, the government is open to ideas – although whether they’ll listen to whoever suggested building an artificial hill for runners to practice running up slopes remains to be seen.
Overall participation in the scheme has been high. Federico Di Benedetto, sub secretary of City Communication, commented: “We’re excited about the number and quality of the suggestions. Compared with similar experiences in cities like Madrid and Paris, we see that porteños are very participative and have a great predisposition for involving themselves in the projects in their area.” Out of the 10,000 submitted so far, and with another week and a half to go, there are bound to be a few ‘out there’ ideas; the government’s commitment to improving the City, however, is serious.