Like many other big cities, here in Bogota the traffic can become a bit of a nightmare, so locals breathed a collective sigh of relief when, in 2000, the TransMilenio system was opened to the public. The TransMilenio system is similar in concept to an underground metro system – only it’s actually a series of buses that drive overground. So where’s the similarity? The buses are separated from the other traffic in the city with their own lanes, and they each follow a designated path with stops only at specified stations, meaning the buses run promptly and without much complication.
The TransMilenio system may not have improved the traffic conditions significantly, but it has meant that locals from various different areas of the city are better connected for work. For anyone on a Bogota tour, it’s a relatively simple way to get around the city. If you can’t understand the maps, there’s usually someone working for TransMilenio at the stations who’ll be happy to help.
A word of warning to those planning to take the TransMilenio, though: it gets very busy. At rush hour it’s often the case that people squeeze together so tightly that the doors struggle to close. Of course, residents of New York, London, Buenos Aires and many other cities will find nothing unusual there. It’s just another similarity with the classic metro system.
You need to know which bus will take you to your destination. Recently buses have been given a letter as well as a number (for example, B11), and the stations aren’t yet equipped to deliver information about which to take. For this reason, it’s best to follow this link, and use the interactive form. To use the buses, you pay upon entrance to the station ($1700 COL) and are given a card with the requested amount of journeys on it. If you’ve only bought one ticket, you have to slot the card into the turnstile; otherwise you simply press the card on the lit-up panel. Once through you’ll see a series of doorways, each with different buses assigned to them. You’ll know which to take by the signs on the ceiling. All that’s left then is to wait by the door for the bus and hop on board. Oh, and to try and make room for yourself.