Enrique Peñalosa plans to give Bogotá the best transit system in the developing world

Architecture Development Environment International Sustainability Transportation Urbanism
Enrique on a bus headed from Denver to Boulder (ITDP / Flickr)

Enrique on a bus headed from Denver to Boulder. (itdp / Flickr)

An economist who once advised Colombian President Virgilio Barco, Enrique Peñalosa is now a revered urban planner in the city of Bogotá. Having once served as Bogotá mayor from 1997 to 2001, Peñalosa is now back for his second stint and pledges to provide his city with the best public transportation system in the developing world.

Enrique Peñalosa in 2011 as Director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. ( ITF / Flickr)

Enrique Peñalosa in 2011 as Director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. ( ITF / Flickr)

In his first term as mayor, Peñalosa was responsible for widespread changes in infrastructure and public space in Bogotá. These included a 40 percent reduction in vehicle usage within the city; replacing parking spaces with green sidewalks and street furniture; developing the TransMilenio bus rapid transit systems; building a major public library alongside two others in low-income areas; and creating expansive green spaces.

Peñalosa also pioneered regulation on social housing that included a minimum square footage on new builds. Dario Hidalgo of CityFix sings the new mayors praises, citing how the bus rapid transit system (BRT) is “one of the world’s most heavily used“, with over 2 million passengers a day using the service.

Enrique is partial to a bike a ride himself (Colin Hughes / Flickr)

Enrique is partial to a bike a ride himself. (Colin Hughes / Flickr)

Like any good economist, Peñalosa is a strong supporter of efficiency and growth. Now, with his self-laid foundations,Bogotá can begin to move forward again. Not dwelling on the past, he has plans to upgrade the BRT system, merging it with the rail network as well implementing more bus lanes. On top of this, Peñalosa plans on doubling bicycle usage in Bogotá.

Naturally, when a such changes are proposed, the issue of financing these changes surfaces. An estimated $13-20 billion is required with the state being left to cough up $7.1 billion after accounting for all government revenue streams.

The solution? Peñalosa is seeking to implement fees for personal automobile travel into the city, similar to the congestion charge in London (which has generated $1.42 billion since 2003).

Despite these possible methods of financing, it is very possible that the new Mayor will turn to the private sector to secure further funding in order to secure the implementation of the new services.

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