Monday, June 18, 2007

Further thoughts on Transantiago

The Transantiago issue continues to be big news here. I’ve now used the system both for bus and metro, and in principle it seems very efficient (though, obviously, I am not someone going long distances during rush hour to get to and from work). You buy a credit-type card (called a “Bip!” card for the sound you hear when you scan it) for about $2 and then add money to it. Once you use it in the metro or bus, for two hours you can make any switches you want for no more cost. In the past, if you went from metro to bus, you paid twice. The buses, all of which are new, have a machine in the front with a scanner for the card.

But the reality is that everyone I’ve talked to (from a variety of backgrounds) complains about it. Mentioning the word “Transantiago” almost always yields a moan of some sort. The complaining is not about the desirability of changing the system, but the fact that both metro and buses get way overcrowded (I’ve seen huge lines for buses), people were given an over-rosy vision of how it would work, a general sense that the government had not been straight with everyone about the potential problems, the new bus lines were not well thought out, and/or a resentment that it was done all at once without providing any time for adjustment. In short, the previous system—at least for buses—was chaotic and inefficient, but everyone knew how it worked. Overnight, people who depended on the micros were presented with a new system that had all new bus lines, new rules, and multiple problems.

The right wants a new design, and I have talked to people decidedly not from the right who agree, but no one outlines what that would mean. The senate is now debating the $290 million injection (already passed in the Cámara de Diputados with the abstention of the right-wing Alianza) and it’s been ugly, including an open demand (by Adolfo Zaldívar, a Christian Democrat) for the resignation of two cabinet ministers in exchange for a vote.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP