Bogota’s Revolutionary Public Transportation, Ten Years Later

Bogota, Colombia, is not the first place you think of when you think of innovative cities, but its Transmilenio bus system brought the idea of bus rapid transit into the mainstream. The system involves dedicated bus lanes and a subway-style turn-style entrance system so that the bus doesn’t have to wait for each rider to pay.

Now it’s often cited as one of the most revolutionary transportation innovations of recent history. It is used by 1.7 million people per day, and has drastically lessened traffic in the congested South American capital. Despite the fact that few cities have followed Bogota’s example in setting up BRT, it’s still an aging idea. Transmilenio was enacted 10 years ago. In a new video, the transportation nuts at Streetsfilms look at how the system is holding up a decade after inception and if the city is resting on its laurels:

[Vimeo 28126860]

As you can see, having one genius transportation idea can make a huge difference in how citizens get around, but not all the difference. And cities must fully commit to their transportation solutions. Now totally filled on every trip, Transmilenio also hasn’t expanded. It needs to go more places, but also have more buses to make it serve the city better. It also needs to be more intermodal; more connected to other transportation systems in the city.

All that said, Transmilenio is still a shining beacon of smart transportation policy. It’s a simple way to build public transportation with the efficiency of a subway without having to dig tunnels throughout a city (which, as we have seen recently in New York, is not so easy). Bogota could be doing better, certainly, but a lot of cities are so far behind that Bogota 10 years ago still seems like the future.

[Image: Flickr user marcotruiz]