The impacts of formalization and integration of public transport in social equity: The case of Bogota

In large developing cities, accessibility to opportunities is one of the key factors to improve social equity. Not only the quality and coverage of transit have an important role in this aspect, but also the patterns of urban growth, low-income settlement location, and road congestion. In terms of equity, transportation has an additional role related to externalities that have an impact on health, where low-income populations are the most exposed. This paper assesses the changes that improvement in transit in Bogota over the last 20 years has brought on equity, through better accessibility and lesser externalities. Based on data from OD surveys, changes are analyzed for inhabitants of different income levels, particularly those who use public transportation. During the period 1999–2019, improvement of Bogota's public transport system included the construction and expansion of the Transmilenio BRT, the implementation of the Integrated Public Transport System (SITP), and the application of subsidies for the poorest. However, despite the significant public and private investment, the overall generalized cost of commuting has increased by nearly 44%, especially due to longer travel times generated by increasing congestion. This higher cost has had a more limited impact on the low-income population, whose main motorized mode is public transport. While the poorest still make a greater effort in time and money, per capita access to employment opportunities has increased by 24%. Only half of the job opportunities for the low-income population would be reachable in one hour, compared to 85% for the high-income segment. However, this gap has been reducing in the 2005–2019 period. Emissions due to mass transit improvement have decreased by 40% and road fatalities by 27%. This has certainly a positive impact on inequities caused by transportation, as low-income neighbourhoods have far worse indicators in terms of those externalities.


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Grupo de Estudios en Sostenibilidad Urbana y Regional.
Universidad de los Andes | Vigilada Mineducación.
Reconocimiento como Universidad: Decreto 1297 del 30 de mayo de 1964.
Reconocimiento personería jurídica: Resolución 28 del 23 de febrero de 1949 Minjusticia.