A metro system in Bogota would be costly and would not have a significant impact on the Colombian capital’s notorious traffic problems, according to an urban planning expert.
Speaking at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Brent Toderian, an internationally renowned urban planning expert, advised Bogota to invest further in its Transmilenio bus system instead.
The Transmilenio is Bogota’s mass-transit bus system, which transports approximately 2.4 million people every day.
“The subway system that Bogota is considering would be very costly per passenger […] A spread-out city should do everything possible with buses, because the brilliant thing about [the Transmilenio] is that it transports a lot of people cheaply. We should instead think about building more Transmilenios for the city,” said Toderian.
“I am concerned that Bogota is discussing building a metro as a significant leap forward. There must be a pragmatic and non-ideological discussion about the construction of a subway,” he added.
Toderian is the former Chief Planner for the city of Vancouver and an international consultant on advanced urbanism.
Toderian’s comments come three days after Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, expressed concern over Bogota’s public transport and urged the development of a citywide metro.
During a speech at the World Urban Forum, President Santos talked about the public transport issues that Bogota faces and the importance of a metro system.
“Metro is a necessity to Bogota. We are among the three cities in the world with more than 7 million people and no metro” said Santos. The president added that “the metro on its own is not the solution, neither is the Transmilenio on its own.”
Santos said that establishing a metro in Bogota was a top priority when he took the presidential seat in 2010.
The president stated that the project was postponed because “we met with a few interlocutors who for various reasons weren’t able to take the right decisions; they didn’t develop the project and this made mobility in Bogota each time worse,” reported Caracol Radio.
Protests erupted in the capital last month and the Transmilenio partially shut down as protesters blocked bus lines demanding a drastic improvement of the Colombia capital’s public transport.
The escalating protests demanding an overall improvement of the service broke out in at least five different TransMilenio stations across the city and partially collapsed the capital’s transport system.
It was not the first time that unrest broke out in the capital over the city’s increasingly congested mass transport system. In March 2012, violent protests over the bad performance of the system led to the arrest of around 60 people and left five bus stations destroyed
Bogota is one of the few Latin American capital cities that has no metro. Instead, the city has the Transmilenio, a bus rapid transit system, transporting more than 2.4 million people every day.
Since the beginning of its operation in 2000, Transmilenio has grown to run some 1,300 buses that cover 11 routes and carry almost one third of Bogota’s total number of inhabitants.
A network of more than 500 smaller buses connect the city’s neighborhoods to the Transmilenio’s 117 stations.
Despite its extensive network and capacity, Transmilenio is heavily criticized for its overcrowded buses. The local and national governments are looking into possibilities of adding a metro or light-rail system to the existing public transport possibilities.