After Gustavo Petro was sworn in as Mayor of Bogotá on January 1 2012, the city is still reeling from the effects of four years of neglect and corruption. Yet some important strides have been taken during the first four months Petro’s administration to get us mobile again, and the controversial issue of the year is what will be decided with the Carrera Séptima: one of the city’s main north-south corridors. As mentioned in our April 2012 issue, the Carrera Séptima between the Plaza Bolívar and the Parque Nacional has been turned into a pedestrian walkway- albeit temporarily.
There has also been plenty of debate in the Bogotá City Council over a new light train – or LRT – which has yet to be approved by the Plan Desarrollo (Development Budget) and although the debate has already heated up in the administrative body, no decision will be made until the end of the month and one which could end up costing the city tax payers some Col $4.6 billion or U.S.$300 million.
The Mayoralty would like to see more energy-efficient transportation in the city during the next four years and is willing to borrow to expand existing rail lines for his tram. Petro and the Bogotá Council have all but abandoned plans for the construction of the circumnavigating ALO (Avenida Longitudinal de Occidente ) highway, another controversial and costly undertaking to unite the Calle 170 in the north with Bosa in the south.
Although Col$ 800 million pesos have already been approved for the start of a Bogotá mega Metro, the mayor wants to the mobility debate to go to the people. “I want to open a discussion with academics, business leaders, students and community leaders with the Plan Desarrollo,” remarked the Petro to the media recently.
The macro vision of the administration is to unite all public transportation under a unified network – the Sistema Integrado de Transporte Público (SITP) – which contemplates the expansion of the articulated bus routes of TransMilenio along the Ave.Boyacá and Cra.68.
Petro must face an uphill fight to get his budget approved. And if Petro’s Plan Desarrollo is approved, mega construction projects will only intensify in the months and years to come.