|Bogotá's Transmilenio vs. Medellin's Metro. Which is the better route?|
Having a subway certainly could give Bogotá the sheen of modernity, and it would move many thousands of people quickly above or below the city's traffic congestion.
But would a subway be worth it? Before revving up the bulldozers, Bogotá officials should look at the experience of their rival city, Medellin.
|Medellin's metro: an expensive trophy?|
In contrast, Transmilenio's planning began in 1997 and the first line opened three years later, in 2000. Barely a decade later, TM has 84 kms of routes and 114 stations and a ridership of 1.4 million people per day, at a cost of several billion dollars - I haven't found an exact number. I read that the total cost of the TM system would have paid for a single 30 km rail line. TM construction has also included public space improvements along the routes.
A rapid bus system also takes space away from private cars - a disadvantage to some, but a positive aspect for those of us who've seen how cars strangle cities. When there's more room on the road, more people take out their cars to fill it. And anybody who's visited Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; or Mexico City has seen that subway systems do not eliminate traffic congestion.
|Its subway hasn't solved Medellin's traffic jams.|
|System maps tell the story: Transmilenio, left, after a dozen years, and Medellin's subway system, right, after 30 years.|
Perhaps once Bogotá's got a well-developed express bus network and the city's population has grown to big for the system on certain corridors, it should consider a subway. But, for the foreseeable future, more TM expansion looks like the best choice.
Related post: Five Mysteries about Transmilenio.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours