Bogotá faces uncertain future over Metro Line 1

The first Bogotá Metro carriage arrived in the Colombia capital in 2022.
The first Bogotá Metro carriage arrived in the Colombia capital in 2022.

Bogotá Mayor Claudia López could face a major political defeat next week from a close political ally, President Gustavo Petro, as he buries – literally – the first line of the Bogotá Metro. President Petro opposes construction of an overland Linea 1 despite the fact that a consortium of Chinese contractors – China Harbor Engineering Company and Xi’an Metro Company – broke ground last year to build the largest public works project for the Colombian capital.

The estimated price tag for the 23-km-long line is US$12 billion, and is expected to be finished in 2028. Now, the price, and completion date, hang in the balance, after President Petro “requested” the consortium to consider revising the construction plans. The country’s first leftist leader cancelled a high-level meeting with Mayor López on Monday without disclosing further details. The President’s intent on burying the first line of the Metro stems from his dislike of former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa and opposition figure to the current administration.

Should the consortium’s Colombian company, APCA Transmimetro, be forced by the national government to revise construction plans, the original contract would have to be annulled and process that would halt operations for at least four years, including delivery of the custom-made wagons. On Monday, the Bogotá City Council called for an emergency meeting to “take actions to defend the project.” Councilors are expressing concerns that the Bogotá Metro is being politicized at the expense of residents.

“Bogotá’s mobility does not depend on parties or egos,” reads a statement from Centro Democrático representatives. And should Petro, when he meets López next week, pressure the district into cancelling the overland line, Bogotá will not have a Metro system until at least 2035 or more. Petro’s proposed underground line does not count with technical studies, and could raise construction costs by an additional US$ 6 billion.

The announcement that Bogotá will have a Metro was made back in 2016 during the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos, and then-Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, both celebrated the Metro as a “reality.” Seven years later, this “reality” appears to be slipping away, a casualty of Petro’s grudge-bearing and Claudia López’s political vanity.