Getting around Bogotá
One thing that just about anyone who’s been to Bogotá will tell about is the infamous traffic. Even with ‘pico y placa’, a rush hour driving restriction for Bogotanians, the traffic backs up enough to make a nun curse. I am so thankful that I don’t have a car here (I might go crazy if I did). But given the crazy traffic in the city, it’s important to know all of the options for getting around here.
So far, my absolute favorite mode of transportation in Bogotá has been the Transmilenio. The bus system runs all over the city and has its own lanes. This is a HUGE advantage during the rush hour craziness every morning and evening. Plus the Transmilenio is pretty cheap. Each ride costs $1.400 COP ($1.700 during rush hour) and can take you to most neighborhoods via subway-esque stations, turnstiles and all. The only downside to this
awesome public service is how heavily used it is. With over 2 million riders everyday it is one of the busiest bus systems in the world! This is all too obvious at 5:45 PM right after everyone gets off of work. Riding the Transmilenio at this time is a frantic dash of trying to make it to the correct platform while pushing past hundreds of human roadblocks followed by voluntarily sardining yourself in a cramped. There is no mercy at rush hour.
Dealing with the discomforts of the Transmilenio at rush hour is far better than waiting
for a taxi though. As crowded as the Transmilenio may be, you can at least be certain that it will show up. Taxis are a completely different story. Cabs are a great option for coming back late at night or going to a rare place that is far from a Transmilenio station. However, you can expect to wait at least 30 minutes to find a cab at rush hour, if at all. Most people find taxis through wonderful apps such as Tappsi and Easy Taxi. Typically, using one of these apps makes it easy to find a safe taxi anywhere in the city. They are incredibly convenient, except between 5:30 and 7:30 pm when the apps quite literally go in circles, rarely able to find an available taxi. If you're willing to pay a little more, Uber just landed in Bogotá and seems to be a much more reliable option - though I haven't used it yet myself.
Another option is bicycling. Bogotá is a very bike friendly city. There are protected bike
lanes in most neighborhoods which make it easy to get around without being subjected to the melee of cars, taxis, and motorcycles that take up the rest of the street. On Sunday, bike lanes become the norm as the city closes over 70 miles of streets to motor traffic for Ciclovía. This pedestrian paradise is full of street vendors, flea markets, and live music. It’s easily one of my favorite parts about the weekend Bogotá.
In all, Bogotá’s a huge city and there are many ways to navigate it. It’s just a matter of
finding the method that works best for you.