The first phase of Metroplus, the articulated bus network of the Metro de Medellin, goes into operation Thursday.
Metro de Medellin, the only urban train network in Colombia, inaugurated Line 1 of Metroplus, which has lanes designated for the exclusive use of the buses.
Line 1 begins at the University of Medellin in the southwest of the city, goes north through the city center along Avenida Ferrocarril and terminates in Parque Aranjuez in the northeast.
Ivan Dario Upegui Velasquez, head of social and customer services at Metro de Medellin, in an interview with Colombia Reports said “The line of buses began to operate very well.”
Twenty buses have gone into service along the seven-and-a-half mile route, which stop at 22 Metroplus stations. Stations at which passengers can transfer to the train network are Cisneros and Hospital. Work will soon begin on a transfer at Industriales station.
Upegui Velasquez described the second phase which is hoped to be completed within the first six months of 2012. It will have the same terminus stations but will run through downtown Medellin along Avenida Oriental. “There we will simply have some bus stops,” he said.
On Line 2 the buses will share the road with other vehicles, so campaigns are being run to educate the road-using public how to respect the bus lanes.
The schedule has not yet been fixed for Line 3 in the south of the city but “now the works are moving forward in the municipalities of Itagui and Envigado,” said Upegui Velasquez.
Work on the bus system was supposed to be completed by 2007 but due to “unforeseen problems, [and] economic problems, there was a severe delay.
More than 300 people obtained jobs as drivers as well as in station administration, maintenance, and other areas. This does not include the jobs generated in the construction works
For people with reduced mobility, Metroplus has made available stations and buses that have been designed for people who have a disability or use a wheelchair. The stations either have elevators or ramps.
“We are going to keep working really hard, so that we have a very successful transport system,” said Upegui Velazquez.