In 1996, the government decided to create the Programa Nacional de Transporte Urbano supported by IBRD financing. The program centered its strategy on the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which achieves urban mobility at a fraction of the cost of rail systems. The most famous BRT system is Bogotá’s Transmilenio, conceptualized in 1998. Transmilenio served as a model for the roll-out of BRTs throughout Colombia’s largest cities, six of which were developed with the IBRD’s assistance, including Bogotá, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Medellin and Pereira.
Each day close to 1.4 million passengers - approximately 27 percent of the city’s public transport demand – benefit from the Transmilenio in Bogotá. According to data from 2009, riding Transmilenio results in average time saving of 32 percent (20 minutes) per trip in comparison to the traditional bus system, more than 10 hours a month for the average rider.
Transmilenio has been able to abate 0.25 Metric tons of CO2 emissions a year. The program also has decreased accident rates by 90 percent in the corridors where the system operates, scrapped more than 2,100 old buses, and reduced noise levels by 3-10 decibels.
Riders of the two other complete BRT systems, Megabus-Pereira and Mio-Cali, have significantly improved their daily lives, benefiting from an organized, regulated, modern, and reliable public transportation system that utilizes a modern fleet and less polluting fuels. All without disrupting existing traffic.