Bogotá Citizens Take to Youtube to Criticize the Transmilenio BRT System


This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional), Spanish, French

By Juliana Rincón Parra at Global Voices

A salsa song and video has appeared on Youtube, documenting the suffering that users of Bogotá’s Transmilenio public transportation system face daily. With humor and precise lyrics accompanied by images of the overcrowding and abuse users suffer daily, the salsa song “What we don’t have are seats” is being shared all over the internet. Here are the song’s lyrics, translated into English by Skyscrapercity forum member transmillen3mundista:

I’m uncomfortable in the Transmilenio, how very uncomfortable
Careful with the broken pavement, watch out for the holes.
A woman came in, in a bad mood and frowning:
What is going on here, that so many ladies are standing?
Who will give me their seat, it seems like we have no gentlemen here!
and I felt indignant but with much respect I told her:
We have gentlemen here, Ma’am, what we don’t have are seats.
We have gentlemen here, Ma’am, what we don’t have are seats. I’m sorry!

Here’s the video itself (available here with Spanish and English subtitles):

Although Bogotá’s transportation system Transmilenio has been used as an example of positive urban development for years, it seems the city has outgrown the system. For example, take this video made by Streetfilms which calls Transmilenio “the world’s most advanced bus rapid transit system”. In the video, the team is taken around by the former mayor’s brother and shown the system by those who work in it, and it certainly looks like a completely different system than the one shown in “What we don’t have are seats”. At the end, they do mention that they did notice the crowding throughout the day, and by the looks of it, none of it was recorded during rush hour…

The passengers aren’t the only ones suffering the torment of transmilenio: when the news channel Caracol sent a journalist to cover the struggles passengers face when traveling on Transmilenio… his wallet was stolen. A lack of security isn’t the only issue, as YouTube user Punkie54 expressed through this remix, combining images and footage of travelling in the transmilenio with the reggaeton song “Making love with Clothes On”:

Finally, transmillen3mundista sums up Transmilenio’s problem: it hasn’t evolved.

The city changes continuously, everything evolves. In 12 years we have the same things from years back: the same bridges, the same stations, the public space. There have been very few changes such as the replacement of the flooring in the stations and bridges for concrete slabs and other minor details. Change is necessary or we fall in the routine, on the other hand we have those who say that if we do something new then it will be costlier. The Transmilenio filled up with that boring grey; the slabs, the stations, the bridges, the portals, the smoke, etc. It would be good to see a change that decreases so much gray, such as integrating green roofing, but also with a profound change in the design of the main lines to include green areas.

Image courtesy of miguelmatus on flickr

  • Aaron Naparstek

    Actually, a lot of the footage from our Streetfilms TransMilenio video was shot during morning rush hour.