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TransMilenio is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that serves Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. 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 as of 2012, 12 lines totalling 112 km (70 mi) run throughout the city.
It was inspired by Curitiba's Rede Integrada de Transporte (Integrated Transportation Network). TransMilenio consists of several interconnected BRT lines, with raised floor 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 express and local buses, the latter stopping at every station to pick up passengers. The outer lanes allow express buses to bypass buses stopped at a station.
Users pay at the station entrance using a smart card, pass through a turnstile, and wait for buses inside the station, which is typically 5 m wide. The bus and station doors open simultaneously, and passengers board by simply walking across the threshold. 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 Swedish companies such as Volvo and Scania.
The buses are articulated and have a capacity of 160 passengers. In May 2007, a new, larger bi-articulated bus, with capacity for 270 passengers, was presented to the public.
TransMilenio buses are not equipped with transponders to give them priority at traffic signals; regret over this fact was voiced by the general manager of the system, Angelica Castro.
As of October 2014 up to 1,500 buses were circulating on the trunk line system. 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 to use the feeder buses.
Some main TransMilenio stations have bicycle parking facilities to facilitate cyclists using the system.
According to a United States Transportation Research Board (TRB) case study report, the initial construction cost for the first phase of $8 million per mile (41 km) was US $240 million, or US $5.9 million/km. In a report presented later by the Ministry of Transport of Colombia, the total cost of the construction of Transmilenio phase one was estimated at 1.4 billion COP (about US$703 million), of which 253.053 million COP (about US$126.5 million) was provided by the Colombian government. The construction of the phase two was estimated at 3.2 billion COP (about US$1634 million), of which 2.1 billion COP (about US$1058 million) was provided by the Colombian government and the rest was provided by the city. The numbers of this report are calculated in money of 2009.
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 on the total number of kilometers that their vehicles operate.
Daily ridership quickly reached 800,000 after the system opened. TransMilenio has since been expanded. Ridership in early 2006 was 1,050,000 daily, and in 2009 it was 1,400,000 daily.
There is a plan in the near future to build 57 km of route by creating more lines and extending some of the current ones, as well as improving some stations. However, this plan is not well received by the citizenship; according to surveys made in the city, 42% of the citizens consider that building a rapid transit system should be a priority in order to solve the mobility problem of the city, while 23% consider that more Transmilenio lines should be built.
Although most Bogotans have found Transmilenio to be an improvement over previous bus service, finding the system faster than traditional buses, many feel unsatisfied with it. Of the 37% who use the system on a daily basis, only 19% are satisfied with it. When asked about problems, many complain about overcrowded buses and stations,pickpockets long wait times and sexual assaults as problems. The system has even been ranked as the "most dangerous transport for women".