Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TransMilenio Along La Septima?

What will help travelers on Septima move faster?
Carrera Septima, Bogotá's most iconic avenue, is often congested and chaotic - and generally an ordeal for commuters.

A man walks by a window side opposing
the proposed TransMilenio line.
Proposed (and stillborn) solutions have come and gone: Dig a subway line below the avenue; Add a Transmilenio line; Build a light rail line. Convert La Septima into an 'eco-avenue.' And on and on...

Meanwhile, the avenue grows ever more chaotic and congested.

Each of the ideas had its disadvantages; A subway line would cost a fortune and generate monumental urban trauma during construction. A light rail line would cost less, but carry fewer passengers than a subway or even buses, according to some experts. And TransMilenio bus lines are cheaper to build, but more expensive to maintain, and often pump out black diesel smoke. Also,  wealthier commuters such as the residents along Ave. Septima often prefer trains to buses.

A bicyclist pedals his way between cars and buses.
Would the redesigned Carrera Septima include a bike lane?
Doubt it.
As everybody following Bogotá's news knows, the Peñalosa administration has decided on a TransMilenio line, generating protests from residents, who worry about pollution and say that the avenue is too narrow at some points.

The city, in response, vows that the Carrera 7 buses will be clean. However, we've heard that story before about both TransMilenio and the infamous Sitp buses. (Concerned neighbors should demand that only electric or natural gas-powered buses operate on Carrera 7, guaranteeing low emissions.)

In some places, Carrera Septima is too narrow, and the city
would have to purchase land parcels along the way.
Critics also say the avenue is too narrow to fit two exclusive TransMilenio lanes, stations, as well as
two lanes in each direction of normal traffic. City halls disagrees, but acknowledges it will have to purchase all or part of some 300 adjoining land parcels - which sure seems like a lot.

I still like the idea of a light rail line, which would not pollute, would have lower maintenance costs than buses and would add an elegance to the historic avenue.

Yet, even if the TransMilenio solution is not the ideal, it would definitely be a big improvement over the existing chaos. The city needs to do something to rescue its most historic thoroughfare, whose congestion costs Bogotá commuters innumerable hours every day, and unless they break ground soon, they may never do anything.

This building's owner displays his opposition to the TransMilenio plan.
A few meters of Parque El Chico's grass would have to be chopped off
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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