Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why the SITP is Failing, in 12 Photos

Anybody in there?
In the quiet Teusaquillo neighborhood this afternoon I came upon this long line of blue SITP buses. What was this army of buses doing on a slow Sunday afternoon in this drowsy neighborhood?

As the photos below show, the buses weren't doing much that was useful. Most were completely empty, while a few carried a couple of lonely passengers. This long row, I suspect, contained more buses than passengers.

Another empty bus.
What makes a company send out a fleet of buses even where there are no passengers? The bus owners aren't stupid, so it must be distorted rules and incentives. Are the SITP operators paid for each kilometer their buses travel, rather than the number of passengers they carry? Or, do their contracts require them to cover certain routes, no matter whether or not anybody actually wants to go there?

The SITP is the brainchild of Mayor Petro, and Bogotá badly needs a rationally-designed bus system with clean, efficient vehicles and respectful drivers. But it also needs to be rational and economically sustainable, and the SITP clearly is not that. Petro seems to believe that propaganda and wishful thinking can make things work. But we live in a world of profits and losses, and unless the SITP has the former, it won't last long.

And another empty bus.
Rather than rationalizing the SITP, Petro plans to apply the Pico y Placa rule to the traditonal buses, keeping them off of the road some days every week, thus driving more passengers to the SITP buses. That might work, but making the SITP system more attractive would be a better solution. More sensible, even, would be to take the highly-polluting buses, whether traditional buses, SITPs or TransMillenio vehicles, off of the road. Then, the city would be reducing congestion and also saving our lungs.
Yet another empty bus.

I think I see passengers in this one. Hallelujah!

A single traditional bus does have a few passengers.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Ally Brown said...

yes a lot of the SITP buses aren't used much. but that's a good thing for those passengers who actually use them! I think the introduction of SITP over the last year or so has really improved the public transport situation in the city. I get your point about them needing to be profitable, though.

Enrico Balugani said...

As a lot of other things Petro is doing, the bottom idea is good, the realization is somehow confusing.
In the case of SITP, there are clearly problems in how the system is designed: if one bus line is supposed to go from the very north of the city to the Candelaria, probably the buses will be locked in traffic at certain points, resulting in groups of 3-4 buses from the same route going on a line...
The same problems can be found in the Transmilenio system: the system per se is good, but it has a lot of inefficiencies.
I guess the biggest issue is the decision about who is actually going to realize the projects: in my opinion, these projects are usually handled to companies who cannot offer a good service. Think about the integration between the SITP card (TuLlave) and the normal Transmilenio system (I and II routes): it's 2 years that the system is waiting to be implemented, but nothing has been done!

Miguel said...

Yes, the concept is positive, even necessary for the city. But it has to be implemented in a way that attracts passengers and is economically sustainable. Otherwise, it'll fail.


Rayzo said...

Entre varios usuarios del SITP estamos creando el sitio web ¿participas?