Medellín Metro: The Innovative Public Transport System.
The Medellin Metro and public transport are rightly acclaimed as social equalizers.
It is seen as a social leveler giving hitherto marginalized areas access to wealthier parts of the city, leading to regeneration by reducing crime, poverty and the grip of drugs and gangs.
Metro Cable puts Medellín back on the map!
This process started against the odds during the violence of the Escobar era.
It began in the late 70’s with the construction of the first Metro line from A to B.
It was brave, visionary town planning that put Medellín on the map for its Metro & public transport rather than the murder rate.
Medellin was originally a tranquil valley, up in the Andes, where Spanish colonialists settled farmsteads and Conquistadores searched for the mythical El Dorado.
What made it a success despite being a narrow valley, ringed by Andean foothills, was abundant coal and hydroelectric power and good coffee farming.
So by the 1940’s-50’s it had developed to a sizeable settlement of some 350,000 and it might have stayed there given the restricted space, had it not been for a massive influx of rural poor struggling with guerrillas and drug barons in the Antioquian countryside.
This displacement swelled the city to the 3.6-4 million inhabitants who jostle for space in the modern metropolis.
Social marginalization, exacerbated by the seemingly indomitable topography, meant impoverished, lawless districts cling to steep Andean slopes.
High unemployment a breeding ground for Medellin’s emergence as the global hub of late 70’s-90’s cocaine distribution.
Escobar did his bloody business, eventually got shot and a traumatized Medellin tried moving on. What helped the city inch beyond its grizzly reputation, was innovative urban planning helping to make it safer and laying the foundation for the hip digital start-up and tourist growth spot it is fast becoming.
An iconic transport solution
Without legacy funds, tax revenue or capital, like other cities in the developed West, the planners had to get creative and find cost effective ways to solve the transport problem. The most iconic of these solutions of course the metrocable.
But cable cars whilst capturing the imagination are costly so they had to find cheaper ways to get around the topography of the urban environment,
They did this by raising metro lines up on concrete stilts, democratising Medellin’s downtown by making it accessible to all.
But maybe the unsung hero, plugging in of hitherto no-go areas, into the life blood of Medellin, has been the Metro Plus. When out of cash for costly metros on stilts and cable cars, they took the humble bus and used it like a fast metro line. With little more than a some concrete kerbs separating the Metro Plus from congested traffic, these buses hurtle along at a rate of knots, stopping at stations with concrete platforms raised for easy access and shelters made of grey shipping containers, where orderly queues form, sheltered from the rain, tickets pre-paid, doors sliding open when the bus docks and passengers filing on with maximum ease and efficiency.
Medellín Public Transport: integrated & multi-modal
This then all links to form an integrated multi-modal public transport system that has been praised the world over. Like only two other systems in the world at a profit, whilst ensuring affordable access for all.
The smart professionals, the blue collar and market store owners all get affordable access at different times of the day to the parts of town they want to be, without clogging up the already sclerotic roads.
Before the metro system productivity was seriously hit with over reliance on the car. Whilst roads are still a problem, there is now a shiny, modern, integrated, multimodal alternative.
Area …. and ….. are examples of area regenerated by access to the transport network.
Formerly areas plagued by gangsterism now small businesses, shops, and restaurants flourish along the boulevard, on the steep slopes leading up to the Metro cable and linked by the Metro plus below.
The other area is ……. where we can see again a similar process, the tendrils of recovery, the lifeblood of capital beginning to flow.
Owners doing up buildings and the area taking on a new look, resulting in property appreciation and regeneration.
Medellín Metro Public Transport: The four types.
Let me go through the four types of transport, first of all, you’ve got the Metro cable this links as you can see from the map below from to from to from to.
In any case the limitations are obvious but it is a showcase of the ambition this was then supported impulsive by practical thinking and affordable transport which is where the Metro plus comes in and this is in constant expansion as he is the Metro cable and the Metro plus links changing to changing to……which were previously isolated and more dangerous areas where working people had little access to income other than through criminal activity
The Metro was expensive took a long time to build.
It stands on concrete stilts, which are an eyesore, but without them, downtown wouldn’t have efficient modern Metro transport.
The Metro creates islands of prosperity, around each stop. Passengers climb up five stories to get to the elevated Metro platforms. This confluence of commuters creates opportunities for small and larger businesses.
To get the Metro ticket, buy a multi-use ticket known as CIVICA.
This allows you to travel on all three forms of public transport and even on bicycles.
It is a common sight to see all ages cycling along bicycle lanes which are a super alternative in flatter areas such as Laurales.
You swipe the CIVICA card and unlock the bike then drop it off at the Cyclovia bicycle rank nearest to where you need to go.
A Metro ticket cost about 0.75 cents US. To get from your start point to destination you can use Metro Cable, Metro Plus (bus) and Metro.
Once you register you get a card known as la Civica, similar to the Oyster card in London.
Once a registered cardholder you can charge it up with trips paying at the kiosks then just swipe the Civica card to access the Medellín Metro system.
So don’t be afraid to get out there buy a ticket, save money, the planet, reduce pollution, and meet the locals.
Experience Paisa friendliness from Metro, MetroCable or MetroPlus and learn more about the city.
Take it all in, via an efficient public transport system that would be more at home in Switzerland than South America.
A beacon of hope and success in Latin America. The transport system is being copied, after adding to the quality of life in Medellin.
I direct you to a fascinating YouTube channel.