Jul 09

How to Use Bogota`s Transmilenio: The Colombia Travel Blog Guide

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. 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 relatively promptly and without much complication.

The Transmilenio in Bogota
The Transmilenio in Bogota; the first of its kind (Photo Credit  http://www.flickr.com/photos/vitoroa/5080645591/in/photostream)

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.

Recently there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the TransMilenio since developments to the system have been delayed and halted due to various reasons – the most infamous and unfortunate of these being a large-scale public scandal wherein former mayor Samuel Moreno was incarcerated.

The TransMilenio can also get very busy, especially at peak hours, and can be difficult to use thanks to various logistical problems (small doors, people not letting others off, overcrowding), but if these hours are avoided it`s a fine and helpful system of transportation.

Transmilenio Bogota
“El” Transmilenio

But enough of all that. Everyone needs to use public transport at some point, so here`s the how-to guide:

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. In the middle of most stations you’ll find a board with all the stations on it, and if you know which one you want to go to you can find the relevant bus if the station you want has been indicated with a black dot. The maps look like this:

TransMilenio map
TransMilenio map

Different buses have different routes and final destinations, indicated by the colour of the line. This helps you locate quicker which bus you need. You then locate the bus you need by checking the number of the bus and the corresponding door (you’ll find a diagram on the board, or you can just wander down and follow the signs).

Sound confusing? It is a little bit, but you quickly get use to it.

Now all that`s left for you to do is fight the general public for a place on the bus. Good, clean fun.


6 thoughts on “How to Use Bogota`s Transmilenio: The Colombia Travel Blog Guide

  1. CTravel on

    My thoughts> Transmilenio is overwhelming for people because no one lines up, though they sort of pretend to before the bus comes. People do not wait for others to get off before getting on and they act like animals getting on the busiest buses during rush hour. Absolute animails. Ever been to a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert, that is what it is like at rush hour at some stations. You have to be careful not to get hurt just getting on a damn bus. But even during non rush hour, some of the fastest buses are kind of tough. It is a very poor bus system considering bogota is so massive, 10 or 12 million, and the capital of the country. but also considering smaller cities in the country have the metro. There are never enough buses and the buses are always overcrowded, even outside or rush hour. In a word, the system, even as 2014 comes to a close, is still pathetic and super stressful. Even with dedicated lanes it can be surprisingly slow. There is never a reason to take the 1 buses as they are painfully slow, even just one stop…it is quicker to just walk.

  2. Niagara Falls hotel on

    Yes you are right i also faced the traffic problem when on my last summer Bogota tirp, its really very use full information for tourist. I like Laguna de Guatavita Lake its beautiful place to visit there.

  3. Tyler on

    Also a good tip to remember, if you are at the station and you find that the bus does not go to the station you want you can take a B5, G5 bus (these busses stop at every station) so you can make it to your destination! 🙂


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