Buses that run like subways

The New York Times had a neat article today on buses that run like subways. These buses are fast, can efficiently manage hundreds of commuters at a time, and decrease carbon emissions.

Bus rapid transit systems that are designed more like subway systems than like bus systems are being built in cities around the world including Jakarta, Mexico City and Capetown. TransMilenio, one of the most successful systems,opened in Bogota in June 2007. According to the New York Times, TransMilenio has been so successful that its been able to make millions in profits by generating and selling carbon credits:

To create TransMilenio, the city commandeered two to four traffic lanes in the middle of major boulevards, isolating them with low walls to create the system’s so-called tracks. On the center islands that divide many of Bogotá’s two-way streets, the city built dozens of distinctive metal-and-glass stations. Just as in a subway, the multiple doors on the buses slide open level with the platform, providing easy access for strollers and older riders. Hundreds of passengers can wait on the platforms, avoiding the delays that occur when passengers each pay as they board.


In recognition of this feat, TransMilenio last year became the only large transportation project approved by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits. Developed countries that exceed their emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol, or that simply want to burnish a “green” image, can buy credits from TransMilenio to balance their emissions budgets, bringing Bogotá an estimated $100 million to $300 million so far, analysts say.

Carbon emissions related to transportation are expected to increase by 50% by 2030. And 80% of this is expected to come from the developing world, where more and more vehicles are coming onto the road as a result of growing cities. So, I think this is pretty cool and important. Also, it sounds so wonderfully efficient when I compare it with some of my chaotic experiences on the 98 B-line (to which I’m sure some of you can relate) …

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2 Responses to “Buses that run like subways”

  1. Jon

    Yes, but you might want to see the royal mess that the Chilean government got into when they tried to implement a Transmilenio-style program in Santiago, the TransSantiago.

  2. Adriana

    I had heard of BRT before encountering TransMilenio, and had really dismissed it. About a year later, while travelling in Latin America, I experience TransMilenio and was really forced to reconsider my previous position. It really works well there, and I think has HUGE potential in North America (especially for regional-scale travel). The problem is that like green-washing, many transit agencies have been BRT-washing their express buses, and the general public has absolutely no idea what full-featured BRT actually looks like. Unfortunately many are still too full of Hollywood and old newstories to Bogota’s TransMilenio the credit it deserves. I have some photos and information posted on Flickr. Check it out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99887786@N00/107068239/ I went back in 2007 to try and make a documentary about it.

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