Colombians Lose 20 Days And 650 Dollars A Year Sitting In Traffic
A recent study shows that the average Colombian spends 480 hours a year stuck in traffic, as the country pushes forward with urban transport infrastructure projects and promotes cycling as an alternative to the heavily congested roads of the major cities.
Darío Hidalgo, Member of the Global Green Growth Institute and consultant for the National Department of planning (DNP), has produced a study that reveals the true social and economic congestion on Colombian citizens.
While it is possible to reflect upon the social and personal implications of so many wasted hours, it is more difficult to put precise figures on the economic cost of congestion. If the average commuter earned the 2015 Colombian minimum wage of 2,685 pesos (around US$1.40), the annual cost in wasted working hours per person would be 1,288,000 pesos (around US$650). While on the national level, these jams result in 2% reduction in the overall GDP of the country, estimated to be 16 billion pesos by the DNP.
The study provides further evidence of the urgent need for transport infrastructure investment, which is currently being implemented as part of the National Development Plan. In Bogota alone, seven million hours are lost annually, while in Medellin four million hours are lost per year.
Simón Gaviria Muñoz, director of the National Department of planning (DNP), explains that one of the problems is the ever growing number of cars that are being purchased, with around a million new vehicles expected to be vying for limited space on the streets of the countries major cities in the next three years. The country currently does not have a clear strategy for expanding road infrastructure, and there is a clear divergence between the aspirations of many of Colombia’s expanding Colombian middle class and the governments aim to reduce reliance on the roads.
If the one million new cars which are expected to circulate Colombia’s road between were lined up, they would stretch from Bogotá to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, around 4,600 km away.
With improvements to Cali’s ‘Mio’ BRT network, the completion of Medellin’s first tram lines and the construction of the Bogota Metro, the country hopes to provide a faster alternative and change the traveling habits of the countries urban population.
Regional governments are also investing heavily in making cycling a healthier alternative for citizens. Bogota there is now 350km of dedicated cycle routes, while in Medellin there now 28km dedicated to cyclists. In addition, Medellin has invested heavily into the EnCiclia public bike system, which allows citizens to rent and return bicycles all over the system. The are currently 13 stations, but the capital of Antioquia hopes to open 32 new collection points all over the city this year.