Are the brakes finally off for the Bogotá metro construction? The constructors say they will break ground in April.
The next decade will bring major changes in the way that Bogotá residents move around the city. We’ll cover what’s planned in a series of articles, from the Metro construction to a TransMilenio expansion, an all-electric suburban tram line, and new bicycle paths. Utilising newer, clean technologies, the city hopes to cut down commute times and improve mobility – as well as providing improved public transport solutions for the population of this ever-growing city.
After 78 years, it looks like Bogotá might finally get its metro and shake off Medellín’s taunts. City officials say that Bogotá residents will be able to ride the city’s long-planned metro by 2025, revolutionising mobility in the city.
The planning phase for the city’s metro officially began in 1942, when then-mayor Carlos Sanz de Santamaría ordered the first studies for the mass transit system. Now, the city finally seems to be ready to start construction on what will be its largest public transit project since the TransMilenio. Along with the new metro, bogotanos will see a vast array of changes in the city’s public transit system, hopefully improving mobility and quality of life for many residents.
The first planned line of the Bogotá Metro will stretch almost 24 kilometres, from Bosa (Portal de Américas) to Calle 78 with Caracas. The Empresa Metro Bogotá, a Colombian state company tasked with the metro’s planning, construction, operation, and maintenance, plans to integrate this line with several other forms of transit, including bus, train, and bicycle.
Transport part two: TransMilenio trumps tranvia on Séptima and Avenida 68
Construction is set to begin in April of this year with Patio Taller in Bosa, a facility with the capacity for 60 in-use trains. Ten of the 16 stations on the first line will be connected to TransMilenio, so commuters will be able to transfer easily between the two systems. But there are obvious advantages in speed and comfort of the metro compared to its bus counterpart: Empresa Metro Bogotá claims that the first line will connect the north to the south in just 27 minutes.
According to Empresa Metro studies, the first line will provide direct benefits to the 2.9 million people who live alongside the main route and have walking access to the stations. More than one million passengers a day from 78 barrios across nine localidades are expected to ride. It may not be the strongest claim to fame, but it could become one of the metro systems serving the largest number of people in South America. Former mayor Enrique Peñalosa has also lauded the economic benefits of the line: Its construction will generate 60,000 jobs, and many neighbourhood development plans are linked to the first 16 stations.
Though handing out contracts for the metro was originally a project of the Peñalosa administration, current Mayor Claudia López has confirmed the planned construction will go ahead. Indeed, she’s even proposed to extend the metro as far as Calle 100.
While she supports the overall project, she’s also criticised her predecessor for corruption in the planning process. In January 2020, it was revealed that the Peñalosa administration had duplicated studies already commissioned by the previous Petro administration, prompting a Comptroller’s probe. But López has promised that under her administration, “The metro will move forward with total transparency.”
Reinvented Uber returns to Colombia
For years, metro construction was held back by the question of financing. But in 2018, three international banks agreed to finance USD$1.5 billion of the total USD$4.3 billion cost of the metro. The Inter-American Development Bank (KDB) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) contributed USD$600 million each, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) offered a USD$480 million loan. The external investment, in combination with national and district public funds that will finance the majority of the project, allowed the metro planning to continue into the bidding phase.
In October 2019, Empresa Metro Bogotá awarded the construction and maintenance contract to Apca Transmimetro Consortium, a Chinese engineering group. After the bidding process, ‘Bienvenido Metro’ messages have rolled through TransMilenio buses, and the 78-year plan seems to finally be becoming a reality. The construction consortium plans to break ground in April 2020; the current timeline expects a fully operational system in five years.