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Colombia TOD NAMA Pilot Projects Primed for Implementation

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Pilot projects are meant to inform and inspire replication. In the last two decades, Bogota’s TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit system sparked interest in and demand for BRT systems across the country, and led to development of a national policy on urban public transport that funds 40-70% of local systems costs. Lessons from the TOD NAMA pilots will do the same, informing both national policy recommendations and finance mechanisms that will support scale-up of TOD and realization of the NAMA’s ambitious GHG reduction goals.

Over the term of the Technical Cooperation period, CIUDAT worked closely with four cities that had been selected for the development of catalytic local TOD projects: Cali, Manizales, Medellin and Pasto. Staff visited each city, accompanied at times by CCAP, to reiterate the concepts and scope of the Colombia TOD NAMA Support Project, and to identify, analyse and refine potential catalytic projects for which local government could seek CIUDAT support. Early on, Cali, Manizales and Pasto confirmed their interest in participating in the project. However, Medellin decided to shift priorities from its originally proposed project (Entre Orillas) to other parts of the city, and withdrew their proposal, despite the prime Metro Station location and the ambition and quality of the initial private-sector led plans.

All three of the participating pilot cities had innovative and creative projects proposed for “detonating” TOD growth.

Cali wants to improve the urban structure (pedestrian network, bicycle network, public space) and urban qualities along what is known as the Green Corridor. This abandoned rail right of way runs north/south through the city and passes close by the historic center. Cali’s planners aim to promote existing and future public transport stations along the axis, encourage residential and commercial projects to densify and diversify the area, add facilities and economic uses, and trigger the development of the entire Green Corridor following TOD principles. In fact, using non-NAMA funds, Findeter worked with Cali for some time as a case study for land value capture, which is a way cities can recover more of the economic benefits of infrastructure investments.

Cali Southern axis and Rio Lili eco-corridor

Manizales’s proposal was for a network of pedestrian infrastructure articulated with public transport. It includes a series of measures in the historic center of the city to address problems such as adding new resideneces, improving quality of life, attracting new private investment and the joining this area with other strategic points of the city, including a university and a major social housing development. The plans include traffic calming within the historic center, pedestrian corridors and public space integrated with a network of public bicycles.

Manizales Historic center and corridors

Pasto presented a project called Super-Manzanas, based on a concept from Barcelona. It would re-organize the transport dynamics within specific groups of blocks (“manzanas”) to create a more efficient approach to distributing motorized traffic and separating it from non-motorized travel. Interventions include traffic calming, narrowing roads, exclusive roads for public transport and pedestrians, expansion of sidewalks, generation of spaces for bicycles, and redirecting high-intensity traffic to the exteriors of the Super-Manzana. The pilot sector for this project is in the center of the city next to a park on the Pasto River.

Pasto Super Blocks

Under the Technical Cooperation portion of the TOD NAMA, CCAP and Findeter hired the IDOM consulting firm to perform pre-feasibility studies for the three pilot projects. Pre-feasibility studies are the first step in finding the best projects to “detonate” transformation and growth in an area while ensuring that market, finance and politics are taken into account.

After the three pilot city pre-feasibility studies were completed, other cities have stepped forward seeking technical assistance.

Bogota has been a leader in innovative mass transit, ever since the first Transmilenio Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line opened in 2000. In 2019 the Bogotá Metro Company (EMB) invited CIUDAT to join a workgroup on land value capture. There EMB was working with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional, to explore strategies to leverage investments in the Metro corridor. They intended to develop three pilot TOD projects around key stations of the new Metro project. Bogota and the EMB requested CIUDAT’s expertise to study and plan a critical new multi-modal station area along the new Metro line in the south of Bogota. The Portal de las Americas is a major transfer station between TransMilenio and local feeder bus lines. Each morning thousands of commuters pass through the station to go to work in central Bogota and return in the evening. When the Metro is built, even more riders are expected. With TOD, the adjacent neighborhoods will see improved access to transit, public space and jobs, and there will be the potential to build new affordable public housing.

The Metro Company operates under a set of new laws that allows them to acquire land and develop real estate projects in areas around the new stations. They are then permitted to collect and use real estate profits and rents to supplement farebox and other revenues for Metro maintenance and operating expenses. This presents a very exciting opportunity for TOD that will leverage the 2.3 billion USD of existing public investment in TransMilenio, nearly 5 billion USD for the future Metro, as well as several billion dollars for social housing to improve quality of life and reduce GHGs.

CCAP and CIUDAT hired the consortium EconómicaHill to undertake the study. Revolutionary new ideas are being considered, such as constructing remote-work centers in the area, so employees of downtown Bogota firms can forego daily commuting. Coupled with this is the concept of the 24-hour city; staggered work shifts throughout the day would reduce crowding (people per square metre) in buildings, streets and public transport – preserving the benefits of TOD and compact development while supporting healthy physical distancing.

Bogota: Portal de las Americas Station

Proposed development around the station in the medium term (4-5 years) Image source: Económica/Hill 2020, (under contract to CCAP).

Finally, in mid-2020, Medellin came back to CIUDAT with a bold new project, a multi-sectoral effort of various municipal entities and private companies in the “Perpetuo Socorro” creative district. They intend to transform an old warehouse and industrial area into a new mixed-use, creative zone near the Rio Medellin and a Metro station. They have already completed a pre-feasibility study with their own resources and recently approached CIUDAT to seek for support to develop the project further. If approved by the CIUDAT Board, Medellin would join with Bogota and the three original pilot cities to provide an exciting pipeline of projects for the Financial Component of the NAMA going forward.

Medellin Perpetua Socorro Creative District

As the Colombia TOD NAMA moves ahead to the Financial Cooperation phase, these exciting projects will start to be implemented in the cities. Soon TOD neighborhoods will begin to grow, bringing all the benefits for the environment and the residents that the NAMA has been dedicated to.


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