The city of Bogotá today entered into its fourth day of an ongoing transportation strike that is generating huge economic losses and sporadic civil unrest. The strike was called by an association of small-scale transportation providers, who oppose the city’s plan to continue implementing the Transmilenio project—a long term effort to revamp the city-wide transit system. The owners of the approximately 16,400 buses that have operated independently in Bogotá claim the new system will decimate their livelihoods.
Negotiations between the city and bus owners stalled yesterday after Bogotá’s mayor, Samuel Moreno, refused to grant the transportation association’s request that the city set pricing guidelines that guarantee bus owners make a monthly profit equal to 1.8 percent of their vehicle’s value.
According to the Colombian Chamber of Commerce, the strike has reduced retail sales in Bogotá by 66 percent. It has also generated unrest in several communities stemming from frustrations resulting from transit shortages. Until the dispute is resolved, the city is relying heavily on its fleet of 2,600 Transmilenio buses. The city has also responded by suspending school, by allowing buses from outside Bogotá to operate in the city and by deploying the military to safeguard Transmilenio routes.
It is estimated that up to 50.4 percent of the cities workers are being affected by the strike.