Big effort, little gain for users: lessons from the public transport system reform in Bogotá

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - south america, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - other, planning - surveys, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement


Public transport, Regulation, Global South, Public policy, Satisfaction, Bogotá


Semi-regulated, privately-operated public transport (PT) systems are common in low and middle-income countries of the Global South. Several cities are now planning or implementing formalized schemes intended to improve quality of service, safety, security of PT services and to reduce negative externalities, with limited success. Bogotá, which embarked on a progressive citywide PT reform process starting in 2009, replicates the negative experience of other large cities introducing citywide transit reforms. The new formalized scheme was implemented gradually between 2012 and 2021. As a result two types of services coexisted in the city for nine years: semiformal and formalized services. This resembled a natural experiment that provided a unique situation to evaluate the restructuring reform in Bogotá from the user’s perspective. This study analyzes passenger satisfaction surveys for both systems by means of ordered Probit models and Importance-Performance Analysis. Despite the good intentions behind the formalization process, results show that users provide better ratings to the traditional semi-regulated services than the new formalized system, mainly because bus frequency and fares are worse and expected improvements in road safety, personal security and comfort have not been delivered. The reform in Bogotá allowed the city to have resilience during the pandemic, though; and provided a framework for inclusion of zero and low-emission buses. The analysis suggests some recommendations for the improvement of transit reform processes: putting the focus on service quality, as well as assigning sufficient funding and developing institutional capacities to undertake the required changes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SpringerLink, copyright remains with them.