Applicability of TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit System of Bogotá, Colombia, to the United States

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - capacity, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit


Urban renewal, TransMilenio, Passenger capacity, Modal shift, Mobility, Lessons learned, Cost effectiveness, Bus rapid transit, Bogota (Colombia)


The TransMilenio of Bogotá, Colombia, is the highest-capacity bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the world and one of the best examples of a high-level BRT system. It demonstrates what BRT can achieve if high-capacity design features and operating characteristics are provided. This paper highlights the different capabilities of BRT as demonstrated by the TransMilenio and assesses the extent to which these capabilities are applicable to BRT operations in the United States. A series of observations is made in relation to the topics of passenger capacity, capital cost-effectiveness, achievement of modal shift objectives, urban renewal, business and institutional models, and politics. The paper concludes by discussing the various issues related to the replication of the Bogotá model in the United States. Perhaps the central lesson to be learned from Bogotá is that BRT is capable of playing a role in the achievement of much wider objectives, such as sustainable mobility and urban renewal, when implemented as part of a holistic package of integrated strategies. Committing to the provision of a network of BRT routes gives the city the opportunity to magnify the mobility and urban renewal benefits from corridor level to the citywide level. The relatively low capital costs that have made this possible, within a relatively short time frame, should also be of interest to U.S. cities.