Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Points for Mockus!

Antanas Mockus launches his campaign yesterday. (Photo: El Tiempo)
Antanas Mockus formally launched his campaign yesterday by proposing to...CHARGE MOTORISTS FOR DRIVING!

Mockus shows again his independence. While other candidates make populist proposals, such as eliminating the Pico y Placa policy - which would increase traffic congestion, at least in the short term - or promise a subway and freeway network, which would bleed the city's budget dry and not happen for many years, leave it to Mockus is proposing to make drivers pay.

Of course, Mockus's proposed congestion charge is the sanest, most effective and sustainable way to resolve Bogotá's tremendous traffic jams while at the same time financing public transit. Cities including Singapore, London and Stockholm use such charges.

Time is money: in central Bogota,
drivers pay for congestion in lost time.
Mockus said he'd charge private cars for using congested streets in central Bogotá. It's an idea certain to meet opposition from drivers - even tho they (and everybody else) are already paying the charge, in lost time, extra fuel costs and increased pollution.

It also makes for social justice: while only a small minority of Bogotanos have private cars, private cars occupy 80% of road space, making everybody wait in traffic jams.

Mockus also promised to build cable cars lines to hillside neighborhoods and to keep expanding the Transmilenio express-bus system. All of these are sensible proposals sustainable in the long term. But with other candidates rushing to promise the impossible, will voters listen to candidates like Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, whose plans are more modest, but might actually get done? 

Perhaps Bogotanos learned their lesson from current suspended Mayor Samuel Moreno, whose campaign promises included a subway and new Transmilenio lines, but has delivered only a single expensive bridge overpass (which hasn't solved the traffic jams) and lots of corruption.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Kevin Howlett said...

True... call me naive, but, I don't see Mockus succumbing to the temptations of corruption. Transport improvements in Bogota are drastically needed and while they might not easily be afforded, without the corruption, they are at least achievable. I'd levy a small tax directly for transport improvements. Keep it simple and transparent.

Miguel said...

No, I don't see him becoming corrupt, either, especially as he's nearing the end of his political career, obliged by Parkinson's. In today's paper Mockus says he'd expand Transmilenio along 7th Ave. and implement the SITP - Integrated System of Public Transport - while others promise the sky, Mockus says Bogotá can't afford a metro. Gotta respect him for that.