Monday, February 9, 2015

The Missing Piece of TransMilenio

Trash and faded buildings on Plaza San Victorino, which is bordered by three TransMilenio stations.
Despite what its critics say, Bogotá's TransMilenio express bus system does move millions of people across the city relatively quickly and cheaply. If the system's buses are often overcrowded, it's also true that TransMilenio is way behind its intended expansion. 

But one thing which TransMilenio has not done is bring economic and cultural renaissance to the neighborhoods around many stations, as these scenes attest.

Bogotá's dream of building a subway depends heavily for financing on taxing projected increases in value of real estate neighboring the stations. However, the evident lack of property appreciation around TransMilenio stations makes one wonder whether a subway will have much of an effect, either. 

Of course, the city might do something about this, by subsidizing or providing tax breaks for renovations and new transit-oriented businesses and apartments near bus and, perhaps someday, subway stations.

Naturally, a more pleasant, safer-feeling environment around transit stations encourages more people to use the service.
Faded apartment/office buildings overlook the new San Victorino TransMilenio station on Carrera 10. They've shown no signs of rejuvenation since the station's opening.
Carrera 10, near the big, new Bicentenario TransMilenio station, is lined with pawn shops.
And roamed by prostitutes.
The busy Ave. Jimenez station hasn't done much to bring life to the adjoining Los Martires Plaza. 
Tagged walls face the Centro Memoria station on Calle 26.
An exit from the Bicentenario station leads to the notorious San Bernardino neighborhood.

Perhaps an exception: This apartment tower was just completed beside the Ciudad Universitaria station on Calle 26.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


YYZJH said...

I lived in Toronto for many years and when politicians wanted to expand the subway lines (much needed!) economic windfall was always quoted. But it's as a pipe dream in Toronto, as it will be in Bogota, and any other city. Expanding public transit is generally for the purpose of helping people get to the business and mercantile cores more easily. It will not encourage people to automatically hop on transit and visit areas they normally wouldn't, therefore unless gentrification of an area occurs, why would builders waste time sprucing up these areas just because they are now served by public transit? I'm all in favour of expanding public transit and getting cars off the roads, but we should never buy into the claims that one's neighbourhood will suddenly become the ¨miracle mile¨

Miguel said...

Hi Yvzjh,

Very good points. Still, I think that the city could use tax discounts and other incentives, as well as good old public housing, to bring more activity to areas around bus stations. And this hopefully would have a compounding positive effect on the neighborhoods. In fact, I have read that in many cities train stations raise nearby property values.


Apolítico said...

O sea que lo que estas esperando es la llamada "getrificación" para que otros niños ricos del primer mundo se puedan ir a vivir al tercer mundo gracias al dinero de papi y mami que les envían desde Wisconsin/Massachusetts/Minnesota. Sino te gusta el aspecto pobre y tercermundista de Bogotá, eres libre de irte cariño, porque lo último que necesita el sufrido pueblo colombiano es una burbuja inmobiliaria provocada por hipsters (o sea como lo llamáis vosotros allí en casa "real state bubble") que haga imposible la compra de vivienda para las rentas medias y bajas.

Miguel said...

Hola Apolitico,

Seguramente un cambio de estrato puede ser un problema para los residentes de barrios deprimidos. Pero ojalá una mejora en el entorno genere más trabajo y mejores condiciones de vida para todos, ricos y pobres. La idea no es echar a gente, pero mejorar la calidad de vida. Aunque los arriendos son bajitos, no creo que la calidad de vida para los que viven alrededor de la Plaza los Martires, por ejemplo, pueda ser muy buena.