Ten Years After Redefining BRT, What’s Next for TransMilenio?
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.
Carlos Felipe Pardo: [00:07] TransMilenio has really transformed the way that people understand mass transit.
Dario Hidalgo [00:14] Bogota didn’t have a mass transit system before TransMilenio and it’s a very large city so having TransMilenio has changed the life of a lot of people. Right now it’s moving 1.7 million passengers every day in the network.
Fernando Rojas Rojas: [00:30] TransMilenio is successful not only as a transport system but also as an image of the city.
Dario Hidalgo: [00:40] When we were planning TransMilenio there was no system that was able to carry above 20,000 passengers per hour. And TransMilenio needed to carry much more than that because what that was the need of the current corridor and all the corridors in the city. So it was very important to have these right through in terms of the technical capacity of the system to be able to go beyond what was normal for buses. It was thinking completely outside of the box. So any city can think of a BRT as a real alternative, even if they are thinking of a high capacity corridor, and that’s kind of a main, main thing why TransMilenio is regarded as a best practice worldwide.
Fernando Rojas Rojas: [01:21] Today we have completed two phases that have 84 kilometres of exclusive bus lanes. We have 104 stations. The benefits are numerous. First, there are social benefits. The average user now saves up to 40 minutes a day. If we compare what used to be the bus lines 10 years ago to those today, the carbon emissions have dropped 98%.
Carlos Felipe Pardo: [02:04] Nobody thought it would be so extremely successful. And that comes with a lot of issues that you have to solve.
Dario Hidalgo: [02:11] So this is a critical time when the city needs to look back into the system and do the improvements that it needs not really forget about all the maintenance issues, there are operational issues and the contractual issues. If the city forget about caring for the system, it will be a big mess. We set a standard there of occupancy of the buses that was too high and that has been the main complaint over all this time, the buses are really busy on the peak hour, stations are very busy as well.
Carlos Felipe Pardo: [02:42] This has taken the system to a point where you’re actually at full capacity. When you’re at 48,000 passengers per hour per direction, it’s higher than many other mass transits in the world.
Fernando Rojas Rojas: [02:54] The growth of the TransMilenio system continues to be a step by step process. It will continue with the addition of new bus fleets and with the extension of new kilometres of exclusive lanes.
Dario Hidalgo: [03:07] The main thing TransMilenio needs is increased coverage. 82 kilometres of mass transit for a city this size is not enough. The plan calls for 388 kilometres. Right now the city is building additional 26 kilometres that will make the system 116, and you need three times that.
Fernando Rojas Rojas: [03:28] Today we are organising transportation around the city of Bogota so that TransMilenio can be integrated in various ways. We will be integrated through payment method. We are going to be integrated through the infrastructure, and we will also be integrated in terms of the communication with the user.
Carlos Felipe Pardo:
[03:53] One of the things that we always tell people when they come
is you have to see TransMilenio as one example of how to solve these
issues, which you can take a lot of lessons from.
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