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TransMilenio is a bus rapid transit system that serves Bogotámarker, Colombiamarker. The system runs throughout 9 lines throughout the city. The system opened to the public in December 2000, covering Av. Caracas and Calle 80. Other lines were added gradually over the next several years, and the total length of the system is now 84 kilometres (54 miles).


Calle 19 Station in July 2004
Based on the model used in Curitibamarker, Brazilmarker, TransMilenio consists of several interconnecting BRT lines, each composed of numerous elevated stations in the center of a main avenue, or "troncal". Passengers typically reach the stations via a bridge over the street. Usually, four lanes down the center of the street are dedicated to bus traffic. There are both express and local buses, the latter stopping at all stations. The outer lanes allow express buses to bypass buses stopped at a station.

Users pay at the station entrance via a smart card, pass through a turnstyle, and await the arrival of the bus inside the station, which is typically 5 m wide. The bus and station doors open simulataneously, a passengers board by simply walking across the threshold. Like a subway system, the elevated station platform and the bus floor are at the same height.

The buses are diesel-powered, purchased from such manufacturers as the Colombian-Brazilian company Marcopolo-Superior, German conglomerate Mercedes-Benz, and Scandinavian based companies as Volvo and Scaniamarker. The buses are articulated (split into two sections with an accordion-like rotating middle to allow for sharp turns) and have a capacity of 160 passengers. In May 2007 a new larger bus with capacity for 270 passengers was presented to the public. This bus has three sections with two articulations and will be used in phase III. Transmillenio buses are not equipped with transponders to give them traffic signal priority, a regret voiced by the general manager of the system, Angelica Castro.

Bus with double articulation, TransMilenio Headquarters, Bogotá, Colombia.

As of August 2007 there are 1,027 buses circulating on the troncal system and the fare is 1500 Colombian pesos for a single trip (about EUR 0.51 or USD 0.64, as of November 2008). Cards use a contactless smart card (MIFARE) system, and it is possible to purchase multiple trips for one card. Most users are distrustful and purchase only one or two trips at a time, due to problems with the cards at the launch of the system. Although the technical problems have been fixed, there are no financial incentives (discounts) for multiple purchases or public education campaigns (as have been recommended by urban planning consultants).

An additional set of 410 regular buses, known as "feeders" (alimentadores, in Spanish), transport users from certain important stations to many different locations that the main route does not reach. Unlike the main TransMilenio buses, feeders operate without dedicated lanes, are not articulated and are green (regular TransMilenio buses are red). There is no additional fare in order to use the feeder buses.

Bogota has many bicycle paths built throughout the city in conjunction with Transmilenio. Five percent of trips in Bogota today are by bicycle. Transmilenio stations at each end of a line have huge bicycle parking facilities to facilitate bicyclists using the system.

Costs, ridership, and impact

According to a United States Transportation Research Board (TRB) Report, the construction cost for the first phase of 41 kilometers was US$240 million, or US$5.9 million per kilometer. Daily ridership quickly reached 800,000 after the system opened. TransMilenio has since been expanded and ridership in early 2006 was 1,050,000 daily, and in 2009 was 1,400,000 daily. Seventy-five percent of Bogotaans rate the system as good or very good.

Eventually, there is a plan to build 388 kilometers of route, which will provide a very dense network of rapid transit for an urban area with an estimated land area of approximately 500 square kilometers. For example, Madrid covers nearly as much land area and has one of the most dense Metro systems in the world, with approximately 230 kilometers of route. TRB reports that the 388 kilometer system is projected to cost $3.3 billion, which is only 10 percent more than a previously proposed Metro of 30 kilometers would have cost.

The system is overseen by a public body, which awards contracts to private bus companies on a competitive basis. According to TRB, Private contractors are paid based upon the total number of kilometers that their vehicles operate.

Routes and stations

System map, including phases I and II
TransMilenio has 9 routes serving 114 stations in the city of Bogota:

Since the May 2006 expansion, the TransMilenio Route System changed dramatically, with new sections added to the system. Instead of being numbered, routes have a combination of letters and numbers. In order to fill the information gap TransMilenio made available an interactive guide[58772] that includes routes, stations, near by places and routes combination, in a simple and efficient form.

New lines are being constructed including one in Calle 26 (Downtown-West (Airport)) and the other in Carrera 10 (Downtown-South).

It is under consideration to start constructing a new line in Carrera 7 (North-Downtown), which has been criticized as there are certain parts in which the system might not fit.

There are five types of stations:
  • Sencillas (Simple): local service stations, located approximately every 500 m.
  • De transferencia (Transfer): allow transfer between different lines through a tunnel.
  • Sin intercambio (No transfer): do not allow transfer from the north-south line to the south-north line; located in a stretch of the Autopista Norte
  • Intermedias (Intermediate): service both feeder and trunk lines.
  • Cabecera (Portal): near the entrances to the city. In addition to feeders and articulated buses, intercity buses from the metropolitan area also arrive at these stations.

All stations have electronic boards announcing the approximate arrival time of the next bus. Wait times are short as there is usually a bus serving the station. There are also station attendants to provide assistance to the passengers, and posted system maps.


Before Transmilenio, Bogota's mass transit "system" was thousands of independently operated, uncoordinated mini buses. Mayor Enrique Peñalosa oversaw the construction of the initial Transmilenio system, which took only three years from conception to opening. The mayor created a special company to build the project and run the central system. The operational design of TransMilenio was undertaken by transport consultants Steer Davies Gleave. The international consulting firm McKinsey & Co. was hired as project manager and leading local investment bank Capitalcorp S.A. was assigned the financial structuring of the project. Most of the money required to build Transmilenio was provided by the Colombian central government, while the city of Bogota provided the remaining thirty percent.

The system opened in December 2000. A second phase has been completed, and a third is underway. Other cities are building systems modeled on Transmilenio, for example Mexico City.

TransMilenio stations comply with easy access regulations by virtue of being elevated and having ramps leading to the entrance, the alimentadores are normal buses without handicapped accessibility. A lawsuit by disabled user Daniel Bermúdez caused a ruling that all feeder systems must comply with easy access regulations by 2004, but this has yet to occur.


Most users will agree that TransMilenio is a vast improvement over Bogotá's previous public transit system, especially in comparison with the chaotic systems in place in cities like Limamarker, Perumarker. There are a number of criticisms based on the way the system works.

  • Buses and stations are often packed even during non-rush hour periods. The problem is exacerbated by bus layout with many seats and inadequate standing room.
  • The use of diesel buses has a greater polluting impact in a high-altitude city like Bogotá than at sea level (Bogotá is 2,600 meters/8,530.2 feet above sea level).
  • The stations have uncovered spots where, when it rains, passengers cannot avoid getting wet as they walk from one end of the station to the other.
  • Mirroring the experience with crowded transit systems of all modes, many users complain about pickpocketing inside the buses, a problem which is made worse by the great extent to which the buses are packed.


On May 2 and 3, 2006, several groups of ordinary bus drivers not related with TransMilenio held a strike, protesting against some elements and consequences of the implementation of the system. They disagreed with the amount of monetary compensation that they would receive in exchange for the disposal of old buses (10 to more than 20 years old), traffic restrictions on the TransMilenio main lines, and a new Pico y Placa Ambiental in some city areas, that would restrict the schedules of buses older than 10-year-old to early morning hours in order to reduce pollution in the city.

Some of the larger bus companies, which participate in TransMilenio, also retired their conventional bus lines during the strike. Public transportation ground to a halt in much of the city, though TransMilenio and a number of other buses continued operating they could not cope with all of the demand. Acts of individual intimidation and violence against some private vehicles, TransMilenio and conventional buses occurred during the strike, as well as clashes between some of the strikers and the police.

Bogotá's Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzón rejected the strike, firmly defended all of the measures as necessary for the city's transportation future, and stated that he was only willing to discuss the specific details of their implementation, as well as a further democratization of TransMilenio's operations, after the situation calmed down. During the second and final day of the strike, the local administration, the strikers and their companies agreed to begin talks.

During the strike, some protests included users of TransMilenio who complained because the buses were passing at a very low frequency. Several stations became so filled up that some people fell from them into the street. Even after the strike ended, some TransMilenio passengers have subsequently protested because they still find different aspects of the system to be inefficient and uncomfortable.

Transmilenio has another disadvantage. The price of the ticket is 1500 colombia pesos, one of the most expensive transport ticket price, more expensive even than a ticket of a metro system like Madrid or Buenos Aires. And it takes upt o 30 minutes to get access into the main stations like Calle 100.

Security on TransMilenio
As in any other highly crowded area, users of TransMilenio must be aware that when riding the system they are exposed to pickpockets. Isolated instances of people getting mugged have been reported as well. Security on buses and in stations is handled by police officers employed by the city. However, most of the time the officers assigned are recently graduated high school students serving their mandatory year with the armed forces ('Policía Bachiller'). Higher ranking officers are assigned as supervisors and respond when a Policía Bachiller requests assistance.

See also


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