Three years ago Streetfilms brought you a comprehensive look at Bogotá, Colombia’s TransMilenio, the world’s most advanced Bus Rapid Transit system. TransMilenio changed the way Bogotá residents think about public transportation, becoming indispensable to the 1.7 million people who use the system daily. If anything, the bus network became a victim of its own success, handling more passengers and crowding than its planners anticipated. Today, ten years after TransMilenio launched, we revisit this groundbreaking transit system and examine how it must improve as it matures.
Posts from the "Bogotá" Category
“When we build very high quality bicycle infrastructure, besides protecting cyclists, it shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally as important to one in a $30,000 car,” said Peñalosa. And as mayor, he walked the walk, extending the network of protected bikeways to every community.
Now the investment in cycling infrastructure is paying off. After starting off with hardly any bike commuters, Bogota is pushing a five percent bike commute mode-share.
"I don't say this as a car-hater--I have a car, I think cars can be wonderful to go to the countryside--but clearly the faster cars go in a city, the wider the roads are, the less pleasant is it to be around. The narrower the street, the slower the speeds, the wider the sidewalks, the better you can feel. High-velocity urban roads are sort of fences in a cow pasture."
Road space, he argued, is the most valuable asset in a city and it is a resource that society can use as it pleases, distributing it between all transportation modes or only one. He stated what is obvious, but what seems to rarely be acknowledged by traffic engineers and politicians in San Francisco: less space for cars will mean less cars. "There is no such thing as a 'natural' level of car use in a city. There is nothing technical about how much space you should give to cars or to pedestrians. It's not like you have to ask a transport engineer permission. What is clear is this is a political decision."
Peñalosa's trip was underwritten by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and was part of the kick-off of the Great Streets Project, a join initiative between the SFBC, SPUR, Project for Public Spaces, and The Livable Streets Initiative (parent company of Streetsblog). Peñalosa earlier in the day met with Mayor Gavin Newsom, which he said went quite well.
"I think [Newsom] was very sensitive to all these issues and he even told some of his people to look into how these things are being used in other cities, the designs that are being used to improve the pedestrian and bicycle spaces there," he said.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) recently presented a report comparing BRT and LRT in the “medium investment” range for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) on the Purple Line, which would connect suburbs around Washington DC with the city center. WRI’s analysis confirms that BRT is the option that would work locally to fight global warming, with a medium-investment system cutting carbon dioxide emissions by almost 9,000 metric tons per year, equivalent to taking about 1,600 cars off the road (PDF).
In an interview with Worldchanging, the report's authors, Dario Hidalgo and Greg Fuhs, address the CO2 numbers: "While this could change in the future with a major and permanent shift to low-carbon energy sources, for the foreseeable future we would likely continue to see higher CO2 emissions from light rail in this case," said Fuhs.