Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Metro System Will Solve Our Ills?

A subway train in Santiago, Chile....

This week, the World Bank gave the go-ahead for final studies for a subway line for Bogotá, which
...and a traffic jam in Santiago de Chile.
 tentatively would run from Kennedy in the city's southwest to Usaquen in its northeast.

A subway, if it's actually built, will be great for those who use it. But for those who believe it'll solve the city's worsening traffic jams, I've posted these photos from other Latin American cities which do have subways.

If Bogotá does go ahead with its first subway line, which is supposed to measure 27 kms and will cost billions of dollars, let's brace for a decade of urban upheaval, corruption scandals, cost over-runs and, and, of course, traffic jams.

That's not to say that a subway isn't a good idea. But, as ADN headlined, 'The World Bank Believes that Bogotá is Unsustainable for the Enormous Use of the Car.' To reduce traffic jams, Bogotá needs to limit the use of the private car. Pico y Placa has failed. The solution is a London-style congestion charge.

New vehicles pero 1,000 people in 2009. As Colombian car ownership escalates, cities will become unsustainable, unless governments take strong measure to reduce private car use.

A metro train in Mexico City, Mexico....

...and a traffic jam in Mexico City.

A map of the Mexico City subway system. In a decade, Bogotá might have a single line.

Sao Paulo's shiny subway....

...and Sao Paulo's terrible traffic jams.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

Miguel, I told you last year, the best solution is the EL. Here in Chicago it works just fine and, is far less expensive than the metro. But, yes, Bogota needs a solution. My sister and her husband were there last month and they found the city really polluted, like never before. They rented a car and, regretted big time. Lets hope that it is built ( Metro or EL ) and, that Bogota becomes more environmentally friendly and less congested.
Enjoy life Mike.

Miguel said...

Unfortunately, I don't think that a subway would do much to improve air quality. Just look at Mexico City or Santiago de Chile for proof of that.

By the way, I have another blog, in bad Spanish, about Bogotá's air pollution:


Carlito said...

What we need is that more people live near their work, but most won't because they are attached to their neighbourhoods (it's frequent that people opt to live near where they grew up).
But with the housing prices, that seems difficult

Miguel said...

There are ways to encourage people to live near work, such as building dense cities, planning mixed-use neighborhoods and building affordable housing near industries. Many people will choose to live near work so as to save hours of commuting every day.


Unknown said...

I love subways and Mexico City's is one of my favorites. No transit system is perfect, but it is good considering the massive number of people it moves every day -- no transit system alone can support the number of people in a city of that size. But starting a subway anew, seems silly in Bogota where you are already moving large numbers of people on your bus rapid transit system. I wonder what the capacity of one of your BRT lines is compared to the planned subway line? I know it would be greater, but I'm sure, not high enough to offset the cost of construction.

Miguel said...

Hi Cassie,

Subways do have much more capacity to carry passengers than a BRT system. However, that doesn't mean that the additional cost and number of years of construction justify their construction.

That said, subways ARE great for those who use them. But, as urban planning expert Jeff Speck, author of 'Walkable Cities', says "We've now learned without a doubt that transit systems do not reduce congestion.

"That's because people do not pay the full cost of driving.

"The minute you do anything to reduce congestion you just invite more people out to drive."



RICHIE said...

Most of you are right the subway is part of the solution, but Bogotá and Colombia need real and literate trafic police, alcalde, trafic director and ministro de transporte who can really teach drivers how to drive, how to change lines, what are stop signs for or signals for, that having a drivers license is a privilege, that being on line and respecting others who are being on line to make a left turn for example is intelligent, so the cars that are going straight could go on in stead of getting caught and stock behind the imbecile ones who make a double line to make the same left turn. Where is the trafic police? Well taking pictures of the cars that are perfectly parked in front of their homes and some times even taking these to the 'patios' because some UNEXPERIENCED trafic unliterate alcalde thought this was the right thing to do! So, do you really thing that eliminating the amounth of vehicules will also solve the problem? Have you even though why bogotanos are buying two cars to avoid restrictions? Have you commuted on transmilenio in rush hour? Have you tried to rent or bur a place near your job? Do you know that most jobs are located within the same place? And bogotanos live farther their jobs because social and econonic factors? That Bogotá is not logistically well disigned like Lindon or Paris? So the peajes thing (congestion charge) will not work? There are solutions!! But first get the right people!!! Not politicians' cousins, family or friends that maybe don't know how to drive!! And all of the sadden become trafic directors....