Megacity Bogota. Officially, there are 8 million people living in the Colombian capital, nearly 10 million in the metropolitan area. The economic growth is reflected by the exponential growth of the number of cars; many of the citizens of Bogota already have a second or even a third car, a negative side effect of a booming economy. More than a million and a half cars drive around the city daily, and there are few transportation alternatives.
A proposal for public transportation from the Public Transport System (SITP) is the Transmilenio, an integrated mass transport system run with buses that have exclusive service lanes in their main routes, but mostly the buses used by the SITP are outdated and a source of contamination known for expelling big, black plumes of smoke. The other option is the over 50 thousand taxis that form part of the capital’s urban landscape but also consisting of mostly obsolete vehicles. The public transport contributes to an increasing air pollution in the Colombian capital, releasing tons of hazardous and noxious Diesel fumes.
A Bogota postcard: the traffic jam, the famous ‘trancón‘. The traffic collapses every day and individual forms of transportation are becoming obsolete and the challenge all large cities face is managing to stop the pollution generated by an almost unmanageable amount of cars. Bogota employs the ‘peak and license plate’, a measure that allows certain vehicles to circulate based on their license plate number.
For years now, Bogota has been planning the construction of a metro system. In the meantime, mass transportation is the only viable alternative to avoid its traffic’s ultimate collapse.
At the moment the city at least gets to breathe on Sundays, when many of the routes turn into the ‘ciclovía‘ bikeways, and also with the ‘Day Without Car’ initiative which showed that a great deal of the contamination are greatly reduced by eliminating individual transport. But it is only a temporal relief as soon again the air quality declines to the ‘normal’ health-threatening levels.