Exploring the impact on public transportation reforms on low-income residents in Colombia


How have public transportation reforms in Latin America affected the poor (e.g., bus rapid transit and aerial cable car implementation)? What is the role of loosely regulated privately-provided shared-ride travel modes -such as motorcycle taxis, shared taxis, non-motorized rickshaws, and loosely-regulated bus routes- in dealing with equity issues and how these transportation services interact with the newly implemented transportation systems governments have put in place in different cities in Latin America? These are the questions that motivate my research. To explore which urban transportation project(s) have the potential to be selected as case studies for my dissertation, to become familiar with the areas I intend to study and to gain a comparative view of the possible causes, I came back to my home country Colombia during the summer of 2017. During my trip, I visited Bogotá, Cali, and Medellin. In Bogotá, I talked to colleagues, who have previously worked with me on planning different transportation projects in Latin America, meet with two public officials from the BRT office, and with the manager of the TransMicable project - an aerial cable car that will open operations in July 2018. I was also able to explore the area where TransMicable will operate and experienced the different public transportation options current residents have. I also visited the most recent extension of the city's BRT to the municipality of Soacha. In Medellin, I talked with transportation planners at the Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá, the Medellin's regional planning office, and visited the neighborhood where the first aerial cable car in the country was put in place. In Cali, I talked with two city's BRT public officials and the manager of the MIOCable - an aerial cable car that started operations more than one year ago and visited the project. Also, in all three cities, I established contacts with local scholars who have researched informal transportation and equity issues in transportation planning in Colombia, and who not only provided valuable data but also expressed they were interest in my dissertation topic and willing to assist me during the data collection process. All the people I was able to meet shared with me their perception of the different public transportation reforms and advise me on the difficulties of visiting and conducting research in some peripheral areas where these projects were or will be implemented. Planners from the three cities shared the household travel surveys available and explained their weaknesses in either capturing users of some transportation modes, or meeting the statistical quality I might need for my research. Thanks to this trip to Colombia I have a better picture of what cases have the highest potential to be studied and have access to the data relevant to my research that is available in each city. The next step is to conduct statistical analyses to assess the quality of the household travel surveys provided and discuss with my advisor the pros and cons of each case. All this wouldn't be possible without the Tinker Field Research Grant provided by the Center for Latin American Studies.

Manuel Santana Palacios
Publication date: 
August 18, 2017
Publication type: 
Student Research