Transportation Planning Casebook/Transmilenio


TransMilenio Bogota Map

Former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa spearheaded a dramatic overhaul of Bogotá’s transit system, replacing a large group of poorly coordinated informal bus lines with a new, dedicated-lane bus rapid transit system. This BRT system, known as the TransMilenio, has led to dramatic increases in transit ridership and created a tangible impact, shifting the perception of transit away from the idea that it was “only for the poor.” Despite widespread acknowledgement that TransMilenio was a huge improvement over pre-existing conditions, over the past years there have been rising complaints on several issues, including system overcrowding, fare equity and gentrification along the system corridors, which has affected Peñalosa’s reelection campaign. While subsequent mayors have continued to oversee the system expansion, there has been increasing political support for a subway system in the city. This option has been dismissed multiple times in the past due its low cost-effectiveness. Nonetheless, it has been getting more public attention, with some of the recent Mayors supporting the idea that a subway is a key tool for Bogotá to become a world class city and attract international investment.

Bogotá, Colombia edit

At 8.2 million, Bogotá is the biggest city in Colombia. It is densely populated and suffers from severe traffic congestion. By the 1990’s, Bogota’s public bus transportation had an average speed of 5 km/hr during peak traffic, and 10 km/hr during non-peak times. Privately-controlled transit systems created further passenger frustrations related to pricing. In 1999, after a plan for implementing subways to increase system capacity and travel times was rejected by the New National Government, Mayor Peñalosa announced a Bus Rapid Transit system alternative[1].

The TransMilenio System edit

"An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation." – Former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa.

Prior to the new millennium, Bogotá, Colombia was well known for the dysfunctionality of its mass transit system. The system, which was largely informal, consisted solely of buses which were operated primarily by individual driver/owners. These owners affiliated with large transportation companies in exchange for access to the licenses that would allow them to operate on city streets. These licenses were widely understood to have been overly abundant and their allocation was frequently suspected of linkage to governmental corruption. Once licensed, bus drivers were given free rein to design their own routes to maximize personal profitability. The result was a system where almost every route went through the downtown central business district in order to have access to the most passengers. Additionally, these buses did not ascribe to the traditional approach of servicing bus stops but rather stopped wherever they feasibly could in order to increase ridership and boost profits, a dynamic that was dubbed “penny wars” (guerras del centavo). These approaches resulted in extreme congestion issues, especially in the central business district, and the plethora of buses greatly degraded the city’s environment and the quality of service.[2] In 1997, mayoral candidate Enrique Peñalosa campaigned on a platform of transportation reform. Throughout the last four decades, there had been many calls for the installation of a heavy rail system in Bogotá. Due to the extremely high cost of rail infrastructure and Colombia’s status as a developing country, the construction of the system was always deemed financially imprudent. Inspired by the bus rapid transit system of Curitiba, Brazil, Peñalosa endeavored instead to craft a system of dedicated busways that would criss-cross the city and provide the same type of mobility benefits of a metro system at a fraction of the cost. In working to implement this new system, Peñalosa had to appease or conquer many entrenched transportation interests, including several that were widely believed to be corrupt or even violently criminal. Private transportation providers were convinced to participate in TransMilenio with the understanding that the program would be profitable for them as well. TransMilenio runs with no public subsidy aside from the initial capital costs associated with laying out the infrastructure, which are funded by both the City and National governments. Several private bus companies operate the buses that service TransMilenio’s lines, but must do so with buses and service standards that meet government specifications [2]. TransMilenio began operations in 2000 and was extremely well received by the public during its first years of service. More recently, however, complaints have mounted relating to the quality, comfort, and affordability of TransMilenio. Private bus operators, seeking to maximize fare revenue, run buses at the highest capacity so as not to squander any usable bus space. This results in suboptimal travel experiences with riders being forced to stand packed together in tight quarters even during non-peak hours. There are also concerns that the pricing of TransMilenio buses is out of touch with the needs of the very poor. TransMilenio’s tickets include free embedded transfers which result in cost savings of complex multi-bus journeys. Non-transferring trips, however, are more affordable on the pre-existing informal bus system, and many low-income residents eschew TransMilenio for these other options. Finally, in the public imagery of many citizens and politicians, a BRT system is by definition an inherently inferior system when compared to other, fixed-rail options. For these sectors, Bogota’s future as a global city depends on eventually making the investment in rail infrastructure. The current Mayor, Gustavo Petro, has indicated a desire to build subway infrastructure in addition to continuing the expansion of the TransMilenio system [3].

Bus Rapid Transit Systems edit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems offer several potential benefits over traditional bus transit systems, including increases in capacity, safety and security, reliability and accessibility, and decreased travel times[4]. BRT systems often have facility and bus fleet improvements which capture “choice” riders and enhance the image of the transit service. Largely because of these benefits, a well-designed BRT system has the ability to increase overall ridership and lower cost per passenger-type system efficiency measures.

TransMilenio BRT edit

TransMilenio employs several BRT elements to both enhance public perception, increase system cost efficiency, and improve the accessibility of Bogota’s many residents. TM includes two types of buses: longer 60ft. articulated red BRT vehicles and conventional 40ft. green “feeder” buses. Both are branded distinctively with the “TransMilenio” logo and look clean and modern. Green TransMilenio buses operate as feeder buses to the main BRT corridors. Feeder buses operate on mixed traffic local roads and are free to ride. These feeder buses operate as collectors, and bring riders into areas with larger BRT stations. There are three types of stations in the TransMilenio system: Terminals, Intermediate Integration stations, and standard stations. Feeder routes pick up riders from standard bus stations, or stops and bring them to larger Intermediate or Terminal stations. Terminal stations are located at either end of BRT corridors, with Intermediate stations allowing transfers from feeder buses to BRT lines in between the two Terminal stations. TransMilenio benefits from a large bicycle network, which acts as a feeder for the BRT lines. Many of the larger BRT stations include free, monitored bicycle parking. Gil Peñalosa, brother to Enrique, estimates that for every 25 people who ride their bicycle to the BRT terminal, one feeder bus could be taken off the road[5]. Since feeder buses in themselves generate no revenue, the cost savings from a well-used bicycle network have tremendous cost-savings potential. Intermediate and terminal stations have off-board payment systems. Payment systems, managed by two private concessionaires, offer a variety of “contactless” cards with fare reductions for disability, frequent customers, and university students (from TransMilenio website, translated by GoogleTranslate). Cards can be reloaded from fare machines outside stations and in a mix of commercial stores and supermarkets. Contactless fare payment cards can be validated upon entering the station at turnstiles. Customers must pass through turnstiles in order to access station platforms. Off-board payment systems such as these offer huge travel times savings as compared to systems with on-board payment. Fares are flat-fares and do not vary by service or distance traveled, allowing utilization by Bogota’s poorer residents. BRT stations are located in the middle of thoroughfares and are accessed by elevated pedestrian walkways. Each station has four boarding platforms in either direction, and all stations have “overtaking” lanes to reduce unnecessary dwell time and allow for “express” (limited or skip-stop) buses to pass the loading queue[6]. BRT buses have 3 sets of doors which open automatically upon reaching a boarding platform. This quick automatic system allows for more passengers to get on and off the bus in the shortest amount of time. Raised-platforms and low-floor buses allow easier access for disabled and elderly passengers. The system is monitored from a control center with workstations capable of monitoring 80 articulated buses at a time. Each BRT bus has a “logic system” that connects with GPS, the odometer and door opening systems to report the location of the bus every 6 seconds. Workstation employees are able to see these locations on a larger system schematic screen, and have voice and data communication channels with bus operators and system supervisors. Most BRT vehicles are diesel-fueled, though plans to incorporate hybrid and electric vehicles by 2024 have been announced by Siemens[7] to further environmental and air pollution goals.

Implementation of TransMilenio edit

Phase I began operation in December 2000. By March 2002, there were three operating trunk corridors (41 km) and seven feeder zones (309 km). The bus fleet consisted of 470 articulated buses and 235 conventional feeder buses. There were four terminal stations, four intermediate stations, and 53 standard stations, with 27 new pedestrian overpasses. Phase I had four trunk line concessionaires, five feeder zone contractors (operating in seven zones) and one fare concessionaire. Total infrastructure costs were $240 million USD ($5.9 million USD per km)[8]. Financing was provided by a 25% local fuel surcharge, which covered 46% of the total infrastructure cost. A national government grant provided another 20%, a World Bank loan another 6%, and local funds covered the remaining 28%.

Phase II was completed in 2006, and grew the system to 142 stations with 11 BRT corridors. Phase II included an additional 64 km of dedicated busways, and grew the total bus fleet to 1,215 BRT buses and 515 feeder buses. Additional infrastructure cost was $545 million ($13 million USD per km) and was largely funded by the national government and the local fuel surcharge.

Impact edit

TransMilenio implementation had numerous impacts on ridership, travel times, adjacent property values and the environment. The system currently averages 1.65 million rides per day, and can transport 37,000 riders per hour during peak periods in each direction[9]. Peak speeds range from 16-30 km/hr, with “express” buses covering more distance in less time. Average travel times for BRT passengers decreased by 32%. Property values were estimated to have increased by 15-20% for property within 1km of stations. Sulfur dioxide levels have been significantly decreased (44% reduction) and it is estimated that 9% of car owners have shifted from driving to taking public transit following the implementation of TransMilenio.

List of Actors edit

Mayors of Bogotá edit

The mayor of Bogotá presides over nearly 20 percent of the Colombian population and consequently is one of the most powerful figures in Colombia. Colombian law limits mayors to three-year consecutive terms, which means politicians avoid fomenting their predecessors’ initiatives, knowing their rivals are waiting in the wings. [10] Leadership played a major role in the success of Colombia’s BRT developments. In Bogotá, Mayors Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa made transportation a key objective of their administrations. [11]

Antanas Mockus (1995-1997) edit

The initial groundwork for TransMilenio was laid by Mockus, whose program was to raise consciousness about public interactions. Mockus began an important change in Bogotá's civic culture with his Cultura Ciudadana (Citizen Culture) campaign, which encouraged civic behavior and strived to create a sense of belonging for the inhabitants of the city. Part of his curriculum involved traffic etiquette and this led to changed attitudes about the relationship between motor vehicles and pedestrians. This in turn set the stage for increased investment in public transit and non-motorized infrastructure.[11]

Enrique Peñalosa (1998-2000) edit

The next administration, under Enrique Peñalosa introduced a comprehensive effort to transform the way residents traveled around the city. There were three main pillars of the transformation: (a) education on public awareness of transit and nonmotorized travel options, (b) planning and constructing Bus Rapid Transit and bike infrastructure, and (c) restrictions on automobile use.[11]

Peñalosa was also convinced by experience in Curitiba and Quito that the private sector should own and operate the TransMilenio buses. He wanted the system to run without an operating subsidy. He also had to ensure that the local bus companies in Bogotá would participate in the project.[2] His administration received criticism for negotiating with organized crime groups linked to the old bus operators, but Peñalosa contends that drastic action was needed to overhaul the transit system. In Peñalosa's eyes, Transmilenio was perhaps the ultimate poverty alleviator, since the poor cannot afford cars. He left office with high approval ratings, but did not win for his 2007 reelection campaign due to the popularity decline of TransMilenio associated with maintenance and overcrowding issues. [3]

Antanas Mockus (2001-2003), Luis Eduardo Garzón (2004-2007) edit

Mockus and Garzón continued the TransMilenio project by planning and beginning to implement its second stage (Phase II). They struggled with the issues of overcrowding and efficient service provision that emerged as the TransMilenio system grew and became increasingly successful. [3]

Samuel Moreno Rojas (2008-2011) - suspended edit

Rojas' very well-received platform centered on abandoning expansion of the TransMilenio and constructing a subway system, at a cost of at least 20 times that of BRT. [3] Opponents like Rojas have attacked TransMilenio as Peñalosa’s “pet project” while proposing subway as the only solution to overcrowding, particularly on the “Septima” corridor that is part of TransMilenio Phase III. [4] Rojas argued that the development of rail transit would would propel Bogota to a new level in its development and sophistication with transit infrastructure comparable to London, New York, Paris or Tokyo, and thus attract international capital. Rojas resigned after charges for negligence in overseeing public contracts. [3]

Gustavo Petro (2012-today) edit

The current Mayor originally outlined his commitment to moving forward with the original expansion plan for TransMilenio without laying out a specific strategy for its execution. [3] However the new administration has also announced that it will push for construction of the first subway line to start in 2015.

Government edit

City Government edit

The institutional, regulatory and business issues involving BRT have been explored by some experts and identified as critical to the overall success of the project or system.[4] The city government owns the routes and rents the right to contracted private bus operators for a specific length of time, usually seven years. The city government is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the trunk line busways, stations, terminals and other complementary infrastructure, such as necessary road works and the control center.[12] In the decade following TransMilenio opening, maintenance has sometimes been neglectful as mayors pursued other budgetary priorities, thus causing this infrastructure to suffer and damaging the system's reputation. [3]

National Government edit

Collaboration between the national and local government was crucial to the success of TransMilenio, specifically the relationship regarding the 70/30 financing rule. This established a system where the national government helped with planning and orientation plus financing, and the local government responded with interest and commitment to develop the project, along with their share of financing.[11] Most of the funding for BRT comes from loans by the Development Bank of Latin-America (CAF in Spanish), the Inter-American Development Bank (BID), and the World Bank.[4]

National Urban Transport Program (NTUP) edit

The success of TransMilenio helped spur support for the development of a national plan for Integrated Mass Transit Systems (IMTS) that would replicate the Bogotá example in other parts of the country. The National Urban Transport Program (NUTP) offers funding and support to cities with populations of over 600,000 inhabitants to develop Integrated Mass Transit Systems and cities with populations between 300,000 and 600,000 to develop Strategic Public Transportation Systems (SPTS). This legislation resulted in the planned extension of BRT projects in 8 other cities.[11]

Transmilenio S.A. edit

The TransMilenio system is managed by a public transit authority, Transmilenio, S.A., which awards contracts to private bus companies on a competitive basis. The agency is responsible for the busway and station infrastructure while different private companies buy and operate the buses, provide the drivers and a separate company collects the fares. [11] It's financed with 4% of ticket sales revenue, other charges fixed in the contracts, and income from ancillary activities, like advertising, technical assistance and consulting.[12] There have been complaints about the competence of the agency regarding its increasingly bureaucratic and decreasing technical role since 2005. [2]

Urban Development Institute (IDU) edit

The IDU is a public transportation authority in charge of the development of Bogota's public roadworks and other related infrastructure, such as pedestrian and vehicular bridges and interchange stations. It is also in charge of building, maintaining and repairing the infrastructure for TransMilenio's trunk routes. However new routes and traffic measures depends on the Secretary for Mobility. This limits the role of TransMilenio's agency. [10]

Private sector edit

Before TransMilenio, mass transit in Bogotá was limited to privately owned public bus service, which suffered from the oversupply of bus route permits, inadequate institutional capacity, and a fractured owner/driver relationship, which resulted in fleet oversupply, low quality services and high social cost due to slow travel, high pollution, high accidents rates, and operating inefficiency. In the late 1990’s, Bogotá’s public bus transportation system was dangerous, underused, inefficient, and offered poor quality service. [11]

Traditional bus companies edit

Vehicles operating in the traditional service belong to small private investors. These investors affiliate their bus to a bus company, something required by law because bus companies are the only ones allowed to provide passenger transport services. The bus companies, therefore, do not own the bus fleet. Instead, the bus companies rent out the routes to the bus owners. [13] As in many cities of Latin America, the traditional bus is loosely regulated and drivers are paid by number of passengers. This encourages on-the-street competition for riders, known as “penny wars”, and low occupancies drive down fares to levels insufficient for reinvestment in vehicles and infrastructure. The vehicles tend to stop anywhere to pick up and drop off passengers, which create unpredictable congestion in mixed traffic and poor service quality.[4]

The reaction of these companies to the TransMilenio proposal was strongly negative and proved to be a critical barrier to the BRT’s success. A main cause of resistance from existing bus operators was the feared loss of business. However other issues ensued such as the replacement of direct permitting allocation with a bidding process, the financial risk associated with investments in bus acquisition, and the uncertainty of the government being able to follow through with building planned infrastructure and retiring existing operators. [11]

Several methods were employed by the administration to overcome the resistance of bus operators and make them pertinent stakeholders in the planning and implementation of TransMilenio. First, the bidding process required experience in public transportation in the city as a prerequisite, which basically secured the participation of existing bus companies (and bus owners in Phase II). Second, open dialogues with transport companies were held in order to include them in the relocation of routes and the negotiations of terms and conditions of contracts. These tactics were instrumental in overcoming the initial strong resistance from existing bus operators and getting them to become shareholders in the new BRT system. [11] However in overcoming these barriers Transmilenio’s designers implicitly favoured large investors, something that most politicians have accepted now. And, by negotiating with the bus companies rather than the bus owners, it was left to the companies to decide whether or not to include the owners. [2] Strikes by the transport companies and protests by university students in 2006 helped alert the authorities to the problem but criticism has become particularly fierce since Mayor Garzón came to power, partly because much of the political support and finance for his party came from bus companies and owners who did not participate in the first two phases of TransMilenio. [2]

Informal buses (Pirate fleets) edit

There are at least two types of informal operators. The first are "flotas", buses that used to belong to the traditional service or that resemble the buses in that service, usually with cloned license plates to avoid identification. A second type of informality are the operators that provide a service at night or in areas of the city were formal services are scarce or nonexistent. This informal service uses jitneys and other small vehicles—even small cars. Little data exists on their operation. [13]

Controlled by organized crime which "own" routes and rent the right to use them with little or no control from the public sector. More than 700 lines of flotas run by 68 private bus companies and more than 20,000 bus owners strangle the city due to overlapping routes and oversupply of buses.[3] For years, the basic defects of the system were never rectified because official control over bus routes gave the authorities a certain political leverage and, for some officials, seemingly a source of illicit income. Bus companies also have the power to call a strike and block the main roads of the city, something that they have done quite frequently. Despite regular changes in its structure and leadership, the government agency in charge of managing transport in Bogotá has often been accused of being either corrupt or incompetent.[2]

The flotas presented the largest obstacle for the Peñalosa administration's ability to implement the Transmilenio. [3] Through cash buyouts which took flotas off the road, (Peñalosa's) government replaced them with new TransMilenio buses. Part of the buyout deal was the creation of a one-kilometer buffer surrounding the new TransMilenio route in which no flotas could operate. His administration received criticism for negotiating with organized crime groups, but Peñalosa contends that drastic action was needed to overhaul the transit system. [3]

Bus companies after TransMilenio edit

Bus services for trunk and feeder routes are provided by the private sector working under strict controls defined in the concession contracts. The bus operators are a consortia of local transport companies associated with national and international investors and they own the buses, hire drivers and maintain the personnel. Service concessions were awarded following an open and competitive bidding process. Payments to bus operators are based on (i) the number of route kilometers produced by each trunk line operator and (ii) the number of passengers carried by the feeder buses. No minimum revenue guarantee exists. [12]

The city government actively sought the participation and collaboration of the existing transport companies and operators in the new system. It was a bidding condition for the services on the three first trunk lines that existing operators should be majority shareholders. This requirement forced a fundamental change in the structure of the existing bus service supply industry. It has been reported that a large number of bus companies/operators have merged into larger companies, in which companies, other than previous bus operators, also have a share. [12]

The main question, therefore, is how to involve more owners and drivers in the ownership structure when, as Víctor Raúl Martínez, the largest shareholder in the TransMilenio operating companies, points out: “the small owners don’t have enough money to invest and wait five years before receiving the profits”[14]. During Phase I new companies were required to buy 2.7 old buses for every articulated bus that they wanted to run. The objective was to reduce the stock of old buses operating on the streets. However the replacement process has proved to be more complicated and tortuous than expected. Additionally, owners of old buses recognized their commercial asset and during Phase II they started demanding more money. As a consequence there has been a delay in putting articulated buses on some of the new routes. [2]

The continued presence of old buses and the entry of illegal ones is explicable in terms of the influence of certain bus companies. There have been at least fifteen attempts to get the debate of profitability of old bus companies or the excessive number of buses operating the city through the Council's Government Commission. Bus companies have clearly been using their influence (i.e. campaign financing) over the local administration and the Ministry of Transport to sabotage the programme to scrap old buses. Because of the ‘unfair’ competition, Transmilenio is not carrying as many passengers as the current number of articulated buses can handle. Buses have remained in the garages and given that costs have increased and passenger numbers have not, the fares on Transmilenio have risen.[2]

A second problem is also linked to the demands of the transport lobby. Transmilenio was intended to transform the whole structure of the bus system. A new operating approach was needed together with a new kind of operating company. But, in order to persuade the traditional bus owners to amalgamate and form new companies, arguably too much was offered in the way of incentives, particularly in Phase I when the profits proved to be greater than had been anticipated. A modern private system should deliver profits to the operators but good regulation should ensure that the profits are not excessive. [2]

Other groups edit

Transit Users edit

Before TransMilenio, there was in general a low public opinion of busways and bike lanes. [12] Buses have also often been excluded from the agenda for their perceived lack of efficiency (due in large part to irregular service and low vehicle speeds) and the stigma they carry as the transit mode of the poor. [3] Transit users had long suffered from the way the system was organized, with a JICA Study of 1996 claiming that 72% of the city’s people spent more than ten years of their lives on a bus. [2] Despite the obstacles and general skepticism, public transportation has become safer, more reliable and more affordable.[3] When service for TransMilenio began in 2001 public response was very positive compared to other modes of transport and received a 93% approval rating. [2] By 2007, though the general image of TransMilenio had declined among the general public, 72% of users thought that introduction of the service had improved public transport in Bogotá, a signal of recognition of its virtues but at the same time demanding a better service. [2]

Car Drivers edit

For car owners, public transportation is synonymous with chaos and poverty. Peñalosa's proposals were met with strong opposition; one of the first projects his administration undertook was to reclaim the sidewalk for pedestrians by installing physical barriers to prevent cars from being parked on the sidewalk. Drivers and storeowners were outraged at being denied space to which they considered themselves entitled. [3]

The city currently restricts drivers with a policy known as Pico y Placa, which restricts car use depending on license plate numbers on designated days of the week. Drivers have found a way around this policy by simply buying a second car and leaving it in the garage on restriction days. A tax could has been suggested instead of this policy, which could be reinvested back in public transportation. [10]

Low-income groups edit

Regarding the cost of travel, the system helps low income sectors in two critical ways. First, the fares are fixed whatever the length of the journey, and insofar as many of the poor live in the outskirts, most travel longer distances than other classes. As such, their journeys are being subsidized by wealthier classes who make shorter journeys. Second, passengers using the feeder network, which operates mainly in poor neighbourhoods, do not have to pay; the cost is covered through purchase of the first ticket. Hence, those who only use the corridor buses are subsidizing those in the periphery.

Nonetheless, the fare for the combined TransMilenio journey is higher than that for a single journey on the traditional buses, but still cheaper if a passenger has to make a journey on two traditional buses. The difference between Transmilenio fares and those on the traditional system is widely cited as an explanation for the slower-than-predicted rise in ridership in the past years.[2]

Other edit

The success of TransMilenio has brought forth critics who question the effects of this transportation development on the city's poorest residents and its role as a gentrifying agent. Scholars and critics charge that the poor, rather than being the beneficiaries of this development and the rise in property values, are the ones who bear the cost of these policies. [3]

Timeline of Events edit

  • 1974 – Success story of the South American bus rapid transit system started
  • 1998 – Private cars occupy 64 percent of the road space and mobilize only 19 percent of the population.
  • 1998 – Process is started under the administration of Major Enrique Peñalosa
  • 1999 – Protest activities are organized against Transmilenio
  • December 2000 – Started operations
  • 2001 – Process continued by Major Antanas Mockus. Protest activities against Transmilenio have already ceased
    • January – Transmilenio officially launches and significantly improves traveling conditions for its users and reduces traffic on its corridors.
    • June – Transmilenio fully entered into operation
  • 2002 – Transmilenio System Phase II starts construction
    • March – First phase completed, encompasses 470 articulated buses operating in 41 Km with exclusive carriageways with 61 stations, and 235 conventional buses in 309 Km mixed traffic local streets
  • 2003 – Annual ridership was 23.5 million passengers during 2003. Total revenues were US $81 million.
    • May – Demand was 792,000 passengers/weekday using 470 articulated buses and 235 feeder buses during Transmilenio System Phase I
    • November – Transmilenio System Phase II initial operations begin.
    • December – Bidding process is completed for feeder zones. New concession started operations with the system expansion
  • First semester 2005 – New concession with the system expansion to be completed
  • 2006 – Ridership reaches 1,050,000 daily
  • 2007 – Transmilenio and the traffic problems of the city are featured prominently in the mayoral campaign.
  • 2008 – 75 percent of Bogotans rated the system as good or very good
  • 2009 – Ridership reaches 1,400,000 daily
  • October 2012 – Up to 1,400 buses were circulating on the troncal system
  • 2015 – The complete Transmilenio system is expected to transport 80 percent of the city’s population at an average speed of 25 kilometers per hour with a service quality similar to an underground metro system.

Maps of Locations edit

Transmilenio Station Map

Key Related Policies edit

Enrique Peñalosa’s policy plans focused on converting urban transportation to a people-centered system rather than an auto-oriented system. Among these policies was a plan to rapidly deploy the TransMilenio BRT system. In coordination with the BRT implementation were a number of policies that discouraged personal automobile use while encouraging public transportation development[15].

Deploying a mass transportation system edit

TransMilenio is a major mass transit project. Peñalosa intended to use TransMilenio to build a bus-based mass transportation system, which could provide passengers with a more reliable and more comfortable transit service. TransMilenio was developed, operated and managed by a company named TransMilenio S.A., whose operating costs are covered by the City of Bogotá and farebox revenue[15].

TransMilenio was deployed along with the implementation of the Integrated Management Policy, which clarified the major objectives and orientation of the development of TransMilenio[16]. TransMilenio S.A. was created to plan, manage and control the TransMilenio transportation system by providing transportation to suit transit demand from the residents of Bogotá. Among TransMilenio S.A.’s goals are that the BRT system should be efficient, safe, and financially and environmentally sustainable, in such a way to improve the wellbeing of the residents, meet regulatory requirements, and reduce pollution and accidents[16].

A stable and standardized fare policy is a large improvement for the mass transit system. Previous to the TransMilenio, private companies set the price of fares, and prices were raised substantially during time periods with high demand. For the TransMilenio, fares are set at $0.40 US dollars for each passenger, which include transfers within the BRT TransMilenio system and transfers to other trunk lines or feeder buses. Fares support the operating costs and some of the capital costs for both buses and free feeder services and the facilities infrastructure is also supported by the fares [15].

Instead of completely replacing private companies with publicly-owned services, TransMilenio S.A. integrated private bus companies into the new system. To do this, TransMilenio S.A. awards contracts to private bus companies which operate buses that meet basic environmental standards. Absorbing these bus companies reduces the possibility of political resistance from local operators and bus companies, which helped in implementing the TransMilenio quickly and smoothly[15].

Restraining use of private cars edit

Several policies were proposed to restrain the use of private cars, such as the Pico y Placa (Peak and Plate) Policy and Car-free Day. These policies focused on reducing car use while improving mass transit mode share [15].

The Pico y Placa Policy sets restraints on who can drive during peak hours by restricting car use based on license plate numbers, greatly reducing peak hour traffic volume. About 40% of cars are not allowed to enter the municipal area during the morning peak hours (from 7a.m. to 9 a.m.) and the evening peak hours (from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.). The Pico y Placa Policy is very effective at reducing peak hour vehicle volumes, which led to a 60% decrease in average commute times[15]. While effective, many wealthier residents evade the law by purchasing multiple cars.

Car-Free Day was designed for residents to experience the services that other transportation modes could provide. The experience was implemented from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30p.m on February 24, 2000, a typical Thursday work day. During this period, no private cars or trucks under 3 tons were allowed to circulate on the urban road network with the exception of 14% of residents who were invited to travel by car. During that day, former car lanes were provided exclusively for pedestrians and bicycle use. The Car-Free Day experience reflects that the transportation system can operate smoothly without private cars [15].

Increasing pedestrian infrastructure edit

Public space policies worked to convert parking spaces into sidewalks for pedestrian needs. There was strong opposition from business owners who complained that a lack of parking would hurt their businesses, and many retailers decided to leave areas in which these policies had been implemented. Lack of communication and explanation about the objectives and benefits of such a policy may be a major reason for the difficulties that the policy faced, which in an important lesson for the development of public space policy in the future.

Discussion Questions edit

1. Is it realistic for a system like TransMilenio to be expected to exist without a public subsidy for operations? Is overcrowding and passenger discomfort the price paid for the lack of subsidy, and if so, is it worth the price?

2. Is it ethical for government officials and policymakers to negotiate with demonstrably corrupt and criminal entities, such as Bogota’s entrenched transportation interests, to achieve policy goals? In what situations would it be acceptable?

3. Should major cities aspire towards the installation of rail infrastructure or is bus rapid transit on a grand scale a viable alternative? Are major cities without rail systems less competitive and/or prestigious? How should Bogotáimprove its overcrowded transit system?

4. TransMilenio riders pay a single price regardless of the distance that they are traveling. This greatly assists low-income residents who live far from the city center and would face additional hardship if forced to pay for their extra travel distance. In the United States, however, many cities charge suburban residents (who are traditionally more affluent) a premium rate for their extra travel distance into the city. Is this fair, is this wise, and will the practice need to be re-evaluated as more poverty moves out of central cities and into the suburbs?

References edit

  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gilbert, Alan. 2008. 'Bus Rapid Transit: Is Transmilenio A Miracle Cure?'. Transport Reviews 28 (4): 439-467. doi:10.1080/01441640701785733.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bassett, T. E., and A. Marpillero-Colomina. 2012. 'Sustaining Mobility: Bus Rapid Transit And The Role Of Local Politics In Bogota'. Latin American Perspectives 40 (2): 135-145. doi:10.1177/0094582x12468867. Invalid <ref> tag; name "Bassett" defined multiple times with different content
  4. a b c d e National Bus Rapid Transit Institute (NBRTI). 2007. Report On South American Bus Rapid Transit Field Visits: Tracking The Evolution Of The Transmilenio Model. U.S. Department of Transportation.
  5. (
  8. Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, TransMilenio Case Study.
  10. a b c Hutchinson, Alex. 2011. 'Transmilenio: The Good, The Bus And The Ugly'. Blog. The City Fix.
  11. a b c d e f g h i Center for Clean Air Policy. 2012. Case Study: Colombia’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Development And Expansion. Center for Clean Air Policy. Invalid <ref> tag; name "CAP" defined multiple times with different content
  12. a b c d e Cracknell, John. 2003. Transmilenio Busway-Based Mass Transit, Bogotá, Colombia. The World Bank
  13. a b Ardila, Arturo. 2005. Study of Urban Public Transport Conditions in Bogotá (Colombia). The World Bank.
  14. At 4 pm, the strike was dead.” Newspaper El Tiempo, 05/26/2006,
  15. a b c d e f g Arturo Ardila and Gerhard Menckhoff, Transportation Policies in Bogata, Colombia, Building a Transportation System for the People
  16. a b ]