From the 8th to the 11th of August, IN-HABIT Project Coordinator Mar Delgado visited Bogotá to get some first-hand knowledge of TransMiCable at Ciudad Bolivar, the Bogotá case study led by Olga Ceballos and Juan Yunda from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
Ciudad Bolivar is a marginal neighbourhood built on the hilly outskirts of Bogotá. The neighbourhood used to be quite isolated, with it taking residents almost 2 hours to reach the city. However, 2018 saw the inauguration of TransMiCable, a gondola lift system that connects Ciudad Bolivar with TransMilenio*, Bogota’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, thus reducing the travel time to 20 minutes.
TransMiCable is much more than a transport system for Ciudad Bolivar though. It defines itself as a sustainable mobility project whose aim is the social transformation of the area. In each of the four gondola stops – the so-called influence area – social and economic interventions are being boosted by 18 government institutions, with the support and involvement of the community. Several artistic areas, parks, and community services have been developed, and the areas around the stops are being transformed into colourful spaces where different local artists (such as May Rojas from Bogota Colors, or the collective Sur Vamos) are developing their work.
Economic opportunities have also emerged, such as street vendors selling coffee, shops, bakeries, small restaurants, etc. During the visit, Mar Delgado met several community leaders, who explained their experiences and the various actions they undertake to increase services and facilities in the area. She also met some of the artists who painted the murals, which are mainly based on the memories of the residents and the history of this once illegal settlement.
Another very relevant initiative included in the visit was the Museo de la Ciudad Autoconstruida, the Museum of the Self-Constructed City, built in 2021 in El Mirador del Paraíso, TransMiCable’s final stop. The museum has been designed as a space for meeting, participation, and recognition of the people and communities that have worked to strengthen the social fabric in Ciudad Bolivar. It also provides an immersive experience, offering a platform for the exchange of experiences and learning about collective actions, as well as the construction of common goods.
All these initiatives and facilities developed around TransMiCable have created an opportunity for Graffiti Tours, where local guides explain the history of the neighbourhood and earn a living.
What’s more, more than 60% of the employees of Cablemovil, the company contracted to operate and maintain TransMiCable, are from the neighbourhood, with at least 50% of them being women. The company’s social action department has a very active role in the dynamization of the area and in boosting cultural, social, and economic opportunities. They also organise events to attract Bogotá citizens to the neighbourhood and to break the stigma.
As well as learning about TransMiCable and the local initiatives, the visit was an opportunity to boost clustering opportunities with sister projects. Mar Delgado met the researchers from EuPOLIS in Bogotá (Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Juliana Uribe from the University of Los Andes) to find out about their pilot case study in Bogotá and explore synergies. And finally, she visited one of the CONEXUS intervention areas at the urban-rural area of Bogotá, with Jaime Hernández from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá.
* TransMilenio consists of 114.4 km of interconnected BRT lines, with raised floor stations in the centre of a main avenue, or “troncal”. Passengers typically reach the stations via bridges over the street. Usually, four lanes down the centre of the street are dedicated to bus traffic. The outer lanes allow express buses to bypass buses that are stopped at stations.
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