Bogota’s TransMilenio mass transit system partially shut down on Tuesday as protesters blocked bus lines demanding a drastic improvement of the Colombia capital’s public transport. At least one man was seriously injured in clashes with Police.
Locations of the protests
FACT SHEET: TransMilenio
The escalating protests demanding an overall improvement of the service have broken out in at least five different TransMilenio stations across the city and have partially collapsed the capital’s transport system.
The commuters, who have been protesting for a number of days, have assured that nearly-empty TransMilenio buses pass by the bus stations increasing their waiting time to more than 30 minutes, El Espectador newspaper reported.
The protesters, which number close to 500, have blocked La Campiña, Comuneros station, Escuela General Santander, Venecia stations, as well as the main artery roads and avenues that surround them.
TransMilenio spokesperson Humberto Gomez said the system is on “high alert” and contingency plans have been deployed as the service sends additional buses to “evacuate” other commuters from the affected areas, Caracol Radio reported.
According to reports, Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro personally met with protestors to hear their demands at the Suba Portal — one of the system’s main bus stations — and tried to ease the tense atmosphere between them and the Mobile Riot Police (ESMAD), who reportedly utilized tear gas to dissuade the protest.
This is not the first time that unrest has broken 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.