Bogotá will not have a fully operational mass transportation system during the next six months after TransMilenio was targeted by vandals during the protests and rioting of the national strike that began April 28. A balance of the widespread destruction that has crippled a transportation system on which some 2.5 million commuters depend every day was delivered by Bogotá’s interim mayor Alejandro Gómez.
“The process of destroying Transmilenio cannot be understood as a form of protest,” remarked Gómez, confirming that 139 bus stations have been vandalized, 61 of which are seriously affected, and 53 closed given extensive damage to pay booths, turnstiles, platform doors, protective windows and roofing. Vandals also targeted 600 STIP buses and 407 articulated buses. As a result of systematic attacks by criminals during almost three weeks of anti-government demonstrations, the projected cost of repairing TransMilenio’s public infrastructure is COP$20,000 million (US$5.5 million), and bill that will be passed on Bogotanos during the administration of Mayor Claudia López.
With the capital’s mass transit system running at 20% of its daily capacity and which, according to Gómez, is impacting mobility mostly for women, among them healthcare professionals attending the coronavirus pandemic, an estimated 500,000 residents will continue to walk long distances to reach their homes along designated bus lanes. “For every minute that passes with stations that are closed, and protests forcing buses to halt operations, 600 people are affected in their mobility,” affirmed Gómez. “This can’t go on happening,” he said.
Adding to TransMilenio’s financial troubles is the fact that for most of 2020, with Bogotá under quarantine and health measures that required the utility company to restrict passenger occupation to 30% – and with gradual easing 50% – the district will also has to foot the bill for a COP$2.2 billion deficit. Gómez also noted that the district is working closely with the National Police and Attorney General’s Office to identify and capture those responsible for vandalism.