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The Economics Of Transmilenio, A Mass Transit System For Bogotá


  • Juan Carlos Echeverry


  • Ana María Ibáñez


  • Luis Carlos Hillón



By the end of the 1990s, inefficiency, excess supply and low service quality characterized the mass transit system of Bogotá. The average travel time to work was one hour and ten minutes, obsolete buses provided public transport, traffic generated 70 percent of air pollution and there were frequent traffic accidents. To address all of these issues, the municipal and national governments designed and put in place a new mass transit system named TransMilenio (TM), which came into operation in January 2001. The purpose of this paper is to analyze Bogotá´s mass transit system before and after TM, study the political economy of its adoption process and conduct a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the first phase of the system. The new transit system is a hybrid model that combines public planning of the network structure, route tendering conditions, regulation and supervision, as well as private operation of the separated functions of revenue collection and transport service. The adoption of this new model needed to resolve delicate political economy issues that characterized private transport systems in many developing countries. The new organization had a sizeable impact on TM users´ by improving traveling conditions significantly. In addition, congestion, pollution and traffic accidents plummeted in TM corridors. However, the type of transition adopted for the remaining transport corridors not covered by TM caused unforeseen negative spillovers, as a consequence of slow scrapping rates and bus and routes relocation. Consequently, although the CBA for the first phase of the corridors covered by TM is positive, once these additional measures are taken into consideration, the net effect is negative due primarily to increases in travel time for passengers using the traditional transport system. In order to minimize the negative spillovers during the full implementation of TM, expected to last until 2015, integration of the traditional and new systems should be carried on, and strict regulation of the traditional public transport system should be crafted.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Carlos Echeverry & Ana María Ibáñez & Luis Carlos Hillón, 2004. "The Economics Of Transmilenio, A Mass Transit System For Bogotá," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 003586, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:003586

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brad J. Bowland & John C. Beghin, 1998. "Robust Estimates of Value of a Statistical Life for Developing Economies: An Application to Pollution and Mortality in Santiago," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 99-wp214, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    2. Lozano Nancy, 2004. "Air Pollution in Bogotá, Colombia: A Concentration-Response Approach," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Combs, Tabitha S. & Rodríguez, Daniel A., 2014. "Joint impacts of Bus Rapid Transit and urban form on vehicle ownership: New evidence from a quasi-longitudinal analysis in Bogotá, Colombia," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 272-285.
    2. Carlos Medina & Leonardo Morales & Jairo Nuñez, 2008. "Quality of Life in Urban Neighborhoods in Colombia:The Cases of Bogotá and Medellín," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 005126, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    3. Llanto, Gilberto M. & Gerochi, Hope A., 2017. "Competition for the Market: A Policy Framework for Improving Bus Operation along EDSA," Discussion Papers DP 2017-10, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    4. Delmelle, Elizabeth Cahill & Casas, Irene, 2012. "Evaluating the spatial equity of bus rapid transit-based accessibility patterns in a developing country: The case of Cali, Colombia," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 36-46.
    5. Carlos Alberto Medina & carlos Eduardo Vélez, 2011. "Aglomeración Económica y Congestión Vial: los Perjuicios por Racionamiento del Tráfico Vehicular," Borradores de Economia 678, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    6. David, Quentin & Foucart, Renaud, 2014. "Modal choice and optimal congestion," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 12-20.
    7. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:209-220 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. David Heres & Darby Jack & Deborah Salon, 2014. "Do public transport investments promote urban economic development? Evidence from bus rapid transit in Bogotá, Colombia," Transportation, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 57-74, January.

    More about this item


    Urban transport;

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise


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