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Fixing the World 02

Fixing the World 02

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Published by: Sir-Andrew Roderick Escobar Arias on Jul 15, 2012
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05/13/2014

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FIXING THE WORLD 02 One or two months ago, things were going acceptably well about public transportation

. I apologize to those ones who disagree with this idea, but we have to keep in mind some certain facts: First off, a person who lived near 5th Street had multiple choices to take the bus, for most of the routes used to pass by almost every basic work place in town. Second, despite the traffic stuck that got to take shape, you were sure you would get to work in time, more or less (being “more” bigger than “less”, and vice versa). Now, with the new massive transportation system, many things have changed. The first one seems to be the most drastic: the big change in bus routes. Some people don’t have to feel it when they go from north side to south side, while others have to go to Roosevelt Avenue, if they want to go to Pance, La Buitrera, etc. At night, people who work near Imbanaco must go to 9th street, except if they can use the Massive Transport System. No matter if it’s in the morning to go to Roosevelt Avenue, or in the night, to go to 9th Street, these two options have a common factor: A horrible lack of safety on the streets. A short time ago, I got an email, signed by G&C Enterprise Solutions Commercial and Services second Manager, Dr. Erika Cerón. In the message, you can read: “Opposed to what you think, walking may be damaging for health. Yes, it is healthy if it doesn’t jeopardize your integrity; it is not a secret how robbery and murder have increased in our city; students on this area are quite afraid to walk at 9:30 in the night, when their night classes are over, no matter if they go in groups to take the bus, because (…) in the first route change night, over 39th Career, between 5th and 9th Streets, students from this area were victims of several armed robberies”. The article itself suggests some strategies that the author of these lines expects to be kept in mind. They should be, for the Massive Transportation System doesn’t reach certain sectors of 5th Street, not even with feeding buses. Those sectors are the ones on the 5th Street zone that goes from 15th Career to 1st Career. A person who wants to use the WIM1 to go to san Antonio neighborhood, for example, would have to get off on the Knowledge Block station or, worst case scenario, on San Bosco Station. Santa Librada Station is not ready yet, but when it is, I wonder if it will be safe enough to get off there at 9 pm, or take the bus at 6 am. Another thing is speed. WIM was thought, or hoped to be faster than common public transportation, but what a surprise! It takes more time to travel in the new blue buses than in one from La Ermita or Recreativos companies, etc. I know what it is using a massive transportation system. I went through it as a first timer on Medellin’s metro, back on 2001 and three years later, in Bogotá, with
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In Spanish, this acronym is MIO, for Masivo Integrado de Occidente. (Note from the Author)

Transmilenio. The first question to ask is: Is there any difference between both of them? The answer is yes and no. There is a difference about softness, for in Medellín’s metro you feel no rough acceleration. Speed increase is a crescendo that turns pleasant for human organism, while on Transmilenio you have to grab the first pipe, arm or neck that you can find. There is no difference in the fact that, in rush hours, both transportation systems can be filled with enough people to inhabit a small town like Cajicá or Carmen del Viboral. However, these two cities have an advantage over us, even if it hurts to acknowledge it, and it is that they are inside their urban limits. This means that, when planning is being made, those limits are kept in mind, and urban designers adapt to them to avoid breaking them and therefore to create a chaos (It is hard for me to believe it, but that’s it, even in Bogotá). Our case is different, for our city is growing chaotically, in all directions. What’s happened? Maybe we are suffering what previous bad majors left us. The fact is that we have to fit this situation. It is necessary that the urban limits are defined, first of all. Once it’s done, bus routes need to be reorganized, but in a way that users are not so affected. And the most important thing is to make sure that the Massive transportation system gets everywhere. I have to confess that I already tried the WIM. Never in my life I had been inside a bus with air conditioned system. I was also surprised by the fact that the WIM was as soft as Medellín’s metro, compared with Transmilenio. I also confess that not everything is complains about this system. Somehow, I feel that WIM is giving back to Cali something that was lost, and that had turned to be one of its best images: its civility. Some months ago, it was strange that a woman, or an ancient person was offered a chair. But I was surprised when I offered my seat to a woman, and she decided to give it to a pregnant one. Honestly, I didn’t hope to see something like that in my city anymore. Another thing that caught me by surprise was the fact that I saw no street sellers stalking the passengers. Even stranger was the fact (relaxing, by the way) that the only music that I was listening came from my cell phone. This made me realize some advantages that shouldn’t stay overlooked. I have no doubt that the Massive Transportation System may help our city. But for that, it must be us, citizens and public transportation business people who change in the first place, and it must be our city the one that changes too. If not, WIM will be only for few and not for everyone.

Santiago de Cali, at 20:11 hours of March 31st of 2009

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