Monday, November 5, 2012

Bogota 21: Toward a world-class transit-oriented Metropolis (with commentary)

This report sponsored by Siemens under a program initi­ated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and De­velopment (BMZ) recommends "that about 4.2% of the national Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP), needs to be spent annually to develop Bogotá into a world-class transit-oriented metropolis". The report has been  implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für In­ternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, active in Colombia for almost 50 years, and Siemens, a German global corporation present in Co­lombia for nearly 60 years.  And to see it for yourself,  click here for the full report that has just been released.

Report Contents:

Report Summary

This book provides strategic advice on development priorities for Bogotá by looking at the metropolis from an angle different than is traditionally used by plan­ners. To do so, we analysed how the city performs across a broad array of criteria defining the quality of urban life. Hence, we benchmarked Bogotá against world-class cities, such as Paris and New York, labelled the “capitals” of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The benchmark provides the background for a SWOT analysis (Strengths and Weaknesses of today and the Opportunities and Threats of tomorrow), and thus forms the basis for proposing the most appropriate direction for the future development of Bogotá. This direction is expressed by the sub-title of the initiative: “towards aworld-class, transit-oriented metropolis.”

The initiative identifies priority measures and propo­ses immediate actions for selected projects, many of them transit-related. This emphasis is because the im­provement of the transportation system in general, and the public transit system in particular, contributes the most to the greater good in a megacity like Bogotá.

The Bogotá 21 initiative looks into the budget needed to transform Bogotá into a top-performing metropolis by 2050. After optimising the portfolio of investments, we recommend most suitable budget allocations to the main areas of infrastructure development, in or­der to identify the minimum investment budget.

This amount, about 4.2% of the national Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP), needs to be spent annually to develop Bogotá into a world-class, transit-oriented metropolis. However, this cost would not be spent for the development of Bogotá alone, but also for the development and the benefit of Colombia as a whole.

Two guiding principles were applied when carrying out this initiative. The first is to maintain a fair balance of benefits for Bogotá and the country as a whole. The second principle is to practise moderation and avoid any kind of overspending towards luxury, beyond what is sufficient.

About one third of the proposed investment would be dedicated to the development of the nation, especially of the transportation infrastructure, including inland waterways, railways, and roads. This would help Bogotá live up to the needs of the nation as the central lo­gistics hub of Colombia, and also cut the tremendous cost of logistics that prevail today.

If the investment portfolio proposed by the Bogotá 21 Initiative were to be implemented, then the city would be on par with metropolises such as Berlin, New York and Paris by 2050. It would become a candidate for the honourable title, “capital of the 21st century.” It is not a dream, it is an option.

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Proposed areas of priority Actions


The development partnership “Bogotá 21” with Sie­mens is part of the develoPPP.deprogramme that Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusamme-narbeit (GIZ) GmbH implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is carried out by indepen­dent research partners. They are responsible for the methodology, data collection and analysis as well as report edition. Findings, interpretations and conclu­sions expressed in this document are based on information gathered by the consultants, partners and con­tributors of the project.

Research Partners

  • ITS Infratrans Consultancy

  • Consultoría Colombiana

  • Universidad de los Andes: CIE Movilidad Sostenible

  • Fundación Despacio

  • Bicivilízate (graphic production)

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Accompanying video:

Click here to view ten minute video with English sub-titles:

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The Editor Comments:

Is this a good and useful report? Upon first read it appears to do the job at its intended target, i.e., figuring out what the menu of the transit infrastructure requirements and expenditures of that great city might look like to and through the middle of this turbulent century.  All that based on quite a hefty chain of assumptions.

Is it adequate from the overall planning perspective that I for one believe to be appropriate and necessary for sustainable mobility in cities?  For people?  Hmm.  It looks to me like  a useful but as it stands far from sufficient step in the planning and implementation process -- and certainly so given the needs of that great and flailing city when it comes to mobility and quality of life. But let's thank the powers that be for the blessings they offer, give this a good read, learn the lessons it offers, and then get back to work on figuring out the requirements and priorities of the city and above all its people from the necessary  much broader perspective. Because that's the job that needs to get done.

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PS. The day after originally posting this and upon rereading the report and reflection, I write this.

Lyon, France. 5 November 2012

Dear Siemens and GIZ,

You will excuse me but I am deeply disappointed in your Bogotá report. You people have such a huge range of experience and resources in the transport field in the broadest sense, and you could have, had you chosen to, put your full brain, competence and imagination to work on this.  You did not.

Even had you had limited yourselves to what is happening in and transforming leading edge cities and projects in Germany, your homeland, this could have been really quite a help to our friends in Bogotá. But you did not and I am sorry because this report cost a lot of money and is getting a lot of attention, which is in itself quite a problem. The issues at stake are so important, and complex, that we need to be very careful in not allowing ourselves to be distracted by anything that is less than the best. I very much hope that next time in the next city you will give it your very best.  Because that could be terrific and a real contribution.

Signed/Eric Britton

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