Accessibility, Affordability, and Addressing Informal Services in Bus Reform: Lessons from Bogotá, Colombia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - south america, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit, planning - integration, planning - service improvement, planning - route design, infrastructure - interchange/transfer


TransMilenio bus rapid transit (BRT), Sistema Integrado de Transporte Público (SITP), bus reform


Many cities in the developing world are reforming transit by formalizing bus services to capture user and nonuser benefits. A forerunner in transit reform, the city of Bogotá, Colombia, first implemented the TransMilenio bus rapid transit (BRT) system and then more recently undertook a large-scale initiative to formalize and regulate traditional urban buses in the city. This integrated public transport system [Sistema Integrado de Transporte Público (SITP)] is transforming Bogotá’s traditional urban bus system into a regulated, concessionary system with restructured bus routes that integrates operations, fares, and infrastructure with the TransMilenio BRT. An investigation was conducted to determine whether the SITP has increased affordability and employment accessibility for public transit users in Bogotá. Results revealed that most accessibility improvements resulted from the recent expansion (and significantly higher speeds) of TransMilenio rather than the SITP. Results of an analysis conducted with budget constraints to determine affordable accessibility indicated that employment accessibility was reduced overall; however, the new integrated fare increased accessibility over traditional buses, especially on the periphery and in southern areas of the city, as a result of reduced transfer costs. Overall, results partly explain the lack of enthusiasm for the bus reform process on the part of public transit users and the political discomfort that becomes apparent when embarking on this process in developing-world cities. Also, more incremental, flexible reform might be crafted for public transportation systems that are dominated by informal services.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.