Saturday, November 10, 2012

Transit Chaos Continues

A red TransMilenio bus amidst the traffic chaos.
TransMilenio buses, albeit late and few, are finally rolling down Tenth Ave., altho the lines won't be in full operation until the underground bus station by the National Museum is completed early next year.

Traffic chaos on Tenth Ave.
So, why aren't they removing those ancient, extraordinarily polluting private buses from the avenue? (The TM buses are merely highly polluting.) City officials say the old buses won't start coming off of the avenue until early next year. Similarly, the first buses of the much-ballyhooed Integrated System of Public Transit (SITP) are finally rolling - and are almost empty, at least in part because the old bus lines they're supposed to replace continue operating and competing with them.

To me, these are yet more indications of the powerful hold the bus companies have on city policy. This dovetails with the almost complete impunity drivers seem to have to flout the laws, about pollution, red lights, drunkenness, etc.

Case in point is the Bogotá bus driver who yesterday ran a red light and hit two children, killing one of them and injuring the other, and then tried to flee the scene, according to witnesses. The driver also had millions of pesos in unpaid traffic fines going back years. Yet, he wasn't even jailed for hitting the children.

The city of Cali seems to be standing up to the bus companies, even defying a city-wide bus strike, in its drive to impose order.

Bogotá has thousands of surplus, unnecessary buses (and many tens of thousands of unnecessary private cars). A first step to taking some of them off of the road would be to enforce the city's pollution and transit laws. A few heavy fines would make many of those old machines unprofitable.

An old bus belches smoke.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

I think it's a natural progression. I like that the market is open to different providers and competition. The accident described could just as well have happened in any developed country. Only the other day a man was killed by a public transport bus run by the authorities.

Miguel said...

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for your comment, but I disagree strongly. If there's any public activity which requires strong government regulation, it's transit. Otherwise, there are huge and damaging externalities, such as accidents and pollution.

Case in point is this fatal accident, in which the driver was rushing to pick up a passenger before another bus did, and killed the little boy. Of course, a person with so many transit violations should not have been driving in the first place. And, he should now be in jail, which would serve as incentive for others to be cautious.

It's all a matter of imposing rule of law.

Richard McColl said...

I am so tired of bus drivers, auto drivers, taxi drivers running red lights, running you down on a pedestrian crossing and then a block away you see a whole bunch of Transit police gabbing on their phones oblivious to everything. The Guerra de los Sentados has to end, a proper legislation has to be brought in and exercised regarding who can drive buses and taxis, fines must be implemented and paid...and transport companies must bear the responsibility for accidents, infractions committed and their polluting vehicles.