Colombia: Transportation Strike from Pedestrian Eyes

Videos record the situation lived these past three days of  city-wide transportation strike that has Bogota paralyzed.  Citizens have resorted to walking, riding bicycles, hitchhiking and climbing into the backs of pickup trucks that will take them closer to their places of work.  The only system that remained in operation yesterday was the Transmilenio central bus system when even taxi drivers joined the strike, and it wasn't able to deal with the exponential increase in passengers.

Most of the frustration during the transportation strike has been directed to the only massive transport system which has been in operation during the strike: Transmilenio, due to the extremely long lines to get service, the lack of buses to get from other points in the city to a station and buses that stopped at stations but were so crammed full of people that no-one could get in.

This one, recorded by pruebasyopublico shows the view from the bus as a it rolls into a station:

Inside the stations the situation was also serious. The transmilenio system which is usually the brunt of complaints due to its maximum capacity being reached during rush hours, was now at that maximum capacity throughout the day. This video shows the Virrey station during the strike:

And this other video (minute 1:40 ) shows the same station without the crowds:

The following video was made by someone recording an accident, but at minute 1:40 you can see a yellow hatchback car that is taking people to work with passengers even sitting on the floor of the trunk space:

Here is a mobile upload by Andrés Hernández Godoy (@andresgodoy on twitter) of a truck which has already placed a sign on its windshield stating its “routes” in order to transport people in lieu of buses:

Image by Andrés Hernández Godoy

Image by Andrés Hernández Godoy

Jair Andres Moreno (@budamoreno) also uploaded many different photographs regarding the long lines at the transmilenio stations, sometimes reaching 8 people wide and hundreds of meters long, like this one, or this next one where passengers are crowded on the bus arrival platform, risking their lives.

Transportation complications are not the only effects of the strike: riots, vandalism and people throwing rocks, sticks and more to buses breaking the strike, looting of businesses and private residences are what some people have lived through these past days. It seems that minors were paid between 2.5 USD and 5 USD by agitators according to Radio Santa Fe.

In Violeta Speaks blog, a frequent user of public transportation speaks about the strike, the bus driver's reasons for the strike and its impact on the citizens:

Además, si los señores conductores están exigiendo (hasta donde tengo entendido) mejores tarifas, pues nosotros, que somos los que las tenemos que pagar, exigimos que nos den un buen trato, porque a parte de todo, muchas veces el irrespeto por el pasajero es increíble…

So, if Mr. Busdrivers are demanding (if I understand correctly) better rates, then we, who are those who have to pay the higher rates, demand that they treat us well, because if it weren't enough, so many times the disrespect paid to passengers is incredible.

El Tiempo newspaper collected stories from travellers who faced the strike and its problems: pregnant women affected by tear gases, workers having to walk 4 or 5 hours to get to work, others had to ride their bicycles for more than 2 hours at the middle of the night to get home, a woman who had to resort to getting into cattle trucks as transport was not only harassed but also had her cell-phone stolen.


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