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Public Transport in Bogota

Nov 8, 2007
During the 1980s and 1990s, Bogota had a dismal reputation in the international media, due in large part to its murder rate, which was one of the highest in the region. Thanks to new government policies and massive policing efforts, Bogota's crime rate has dropped 70 percent and the city is today considered safer than Washington, D.C., Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City.

Bogota offers an eclectic blend of modernity and history, with gleaming skyscrapers set amidst colonial buildings. Spanish and French colonial influences are seen throughout the city, which also has also been widely impacted by American-style architecture. The city is home to diverse cultural and artistic offerings, as well as an eclectic shopping scene and numerous gourmet food shops and restaurants.

Bogota's modern transportation system is a well-planning and highly organized, making travel to and within Colombia's capital city easy and efficient. If you are traveling to Colombia by airplane, you will arrive at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport, South America's largest airport, and able to handle more than 16 million travelers a year. Traveling from within Colombia is also convenient, since Bogota is a hub for national bus routes and has the largest bus station in the country. The station also offers international routes, including to Ecuador and Venezuela.

Once you have landed or arrived in Bogota, you will likely do most of your getting around by bus, which is the city's primary and most prolific form of mass transportation. The city has two bus systems: the traditional system and the TransMilenio. The traditional system utilizes a combination of large city buses, mini-buses and mini-vans to transport passengers via city streets. The TransMilenio is a rapid transit system, which networks modern articulated buses operating on bus-only roads with smaller feeder buses bringing passengers from residential areas to the main grid. The TransMilenio, which is still being expanded, is expected to cover the entire city by 2030, at which point it will completely replace the traditional bus system.

Although the TransMilenio is Bogota's most efficient transportation system, it is also the city's most expensive one (other than private taxis), since the buses run on diesel and are subject to fare increases in accordance with rising oil prices.

For a less expensive and more environmentally friendly mode of transportation, consider renting a bike. Bogota has a city-wide network of bike paths (called ciclorutas), totaling more than 300 kilometers. Since construction of the ciclorutas began in 1995, bicycle use in Bogota has increased 5 times. Today, an estimated 400,000 bike trips are made daily in the city.

While Bogota does not have a commuter train, its so-called tourist train is popular both with visitors and the local population. On weekends, the tourist train rides from Bogota to the outlying neighborhoods of Nemocon and Zipaquira, which is famous for its salt cathedral. The route is 53 kilometers long and takes several hours (for the roundtrip experience).
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