Bogotá will continue being one of the world’s largest cities without an underground metro, but a mammoth elevated train system is coming to the capital. The $4.77 billion USD — or 13.8 trillion peso —mega-project is expected to start moving a million passengers everyday when its first phase is finished to help ease the notoriously onerous traffic in the city of more than eight million people.
Construction will begin in 2018 and include some 19 miles (30 kilometers) of initial lines that are expected to be operational, if completed on schedule, by 2022.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who joined Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa last weekend to make the announcement, has committed the national government to picking up roughly 70% of the final bill. The capital will pay for the rest.
Though a metro has been promised — and not delivered — under previous mayors, Peñalosa ensured that this is a new day. “The difference between this and previous metros is that this one will actually be built,” sad Bogotá’s mayor.
Peñalosa switched tack from an earlier plan for an underground, at least in part, to save money. The elevated rails will cost nearly $1.4 billion USD less than a prior plan to put the system beneath ground, according to a study commissioned by the mayor’s office. He said a project of this nature is also much less likely to experience major cost overruns.
The city will build the metro through Empresa Metro de Bogotá S.A., a company it established to take the colossal undertaking from design to completion to decades of future operations. The first phase will begin with a route that starts at Portal de las Américas and heads west through the capital along the Avenida Primero de Mayo and then to Avenida Caracas. The line will then move on to Calle 72 and then via Autopista Norte northward to Calle 127.
According to Peñalosa, by the time the first phase is finished in 2022, some 80% of the people living in the capital will be within easy walking distance — meaning 1 kilometer — of a station. He also noted that the fee structure to ride the metro will be tied to current Transmilenio bus system. Commuters will be able to continue putting money on their card and pay the same fare for either the bus or the train.