Sunday, October 12, 2014

Will a Subway Bury Bogotá?

Traffic backed-up on Calle 26.
Bogotá wants a subway. Whether it's a good idea or not is almost irrelevant. After all, Bogotá is the
A map of the proposed first
Metro line in Bogotá.
largest city in Latin America and one of the few of its size in the world without a subway system. So, status and appearance are arguments enough.
A traffic jam in La Candelaria.

But just the first line of the planned subway, running mostly north-south along Bogotá's eastern border, is projected to cost some $7.5 billion - but will surely overrun that - and Bogotá officials don't know how the city can pay for it.

What worries urban planners is that Bogotá will suspend nearly all other transit work in order to pay for the dreamed-of metro line.

Unfortunately, by the time a first metro line gets built, perhaps 10 to 15 years from now, the number of cars in Bogotá will have more than doubled, making city's already huge traffic jams gargantuan.

But there is a solution to both aspects of this crisis - the London-style congestion charge which Mayor Petro said he'd create, but hasn't moved forward. Such a charge would both reduce the use of private cars, which occupy most of Bogotá's road space, and also help finance that much-desired metro line.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


kevin post said...

Bogotá has too much urban sprawl and bureaucracy to finish the subway at this time. They've been talking about this for more than a decade and it could be decades longer before the city invests in much needed infrastructure to ease its congestion.

I believe a subway system would create a boom in the local economy but as you've mentioned they haven't a way to pay for it at this time.

Whenever I'm in Bogotá I borrow a bicycle because it is the only reliable source of transportation.

There is talk of building a bigger tunnel from Bogotá to Villa'o estimated to make the +2hr trip a mere 45/50 minute commute. The day that is completed would be a game changer for both cities in regards to commerce, traffic and migration (Bogotá residence moving to Villavicencio).

What are your thoughts Mike?

Miguel said...

Hi Kevin,

Actually, they've been talking about building a subway for decades - I think 70 years - now. My feeling is that they'll finally do it this time. The question is how many other transit projects will be sacrificed for this long-dreamed-of metro.

As for a Bogotá-Villao tunnel, that would inevitably spur more suburban sprawl and even more car dependency. Bogotá needs to grow in a compact way adaptable to mass transit. Otherwise, it'll turn into Houston, Tx.