|Cars in central Bogotá. Private cars, |
often carrying only on person,
take up most of the space on Bogotá's streets.
Mayor Petro's ambitious transit blueprint will dust off a mode which Bogotá hasn't seen for a long, long time: Trains.
Trolleys and streetcars have played a big role in Bogotá's history, but today the only train that operates in Bogotá is the vintage tourist train which carries holidayers to and from Zipaquira on weekends and holidays.
|Work on the Museo Nacional TransMilenio station, |
supposed to open for operation early next year.
A light rail line along La Septima would be
the continuation of this TM line.
If the plan actually gets completed, the city will be encircled by passenger rail lines.
Of all those projects, the streetcar, or Tranvia, on Ave. Septima has generated the most controversy. Critics say a light rail would only carry a few thousand people per hour - far less than a subway line, or the corridor's commuter flow. Under that reasoning, light rail will do wonders to turn Ave. Septima -which passes by many of the city's most important landmarks - from a chaotic, polluted mess to an orderly, pleasant and efficient avenue. The city also has a grand plan to turn the avenue into a 'green corridor' complete with electric buses and facelifts all along its route. But a light rail won't come close to handling La Septima's future passenger demand.
|Progress: Ave. Septima's bridge over |
Calle 26 is supposed to be done within a few weeks.
Still, thousands of passengers per hour is substantial. And a streetcar has the advantage of attracting higher-income commuters who would be reluctant to get onto a bus or even a subway.
These projects - if they're actually built - will move bogotanos faster across the city. But don't expect them to solve the city's traffic congestion or pollution nightmares. By a decade from now, when much of this infrastructure may have been completed, a million additional private cars will have flooded the city.
That is the real transit crisis facing the city. And without strong measures, such as a congestion charge and fines for single passenger vehicles, the city's transit faces collapse with or without new rail lines.
|TransMilenio buses pass a traffic jam on Carrera 30, |
near Palo Quemao market. Unless the city takes
strong measures about exploding private car use,
it'll turn into one big traffic jam.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours