The BusCaracas that never comes


Travel in and out of Puerto Cabello and you’ll pass in front of the local Airport and the Naval Base next door. In recent months, you’ll have noticed something new: a huge concentration of buses, as far as the eye can see. And they’re not the typical buses you can see in our cities and towns, either.

This is no ordinary bus: it’s made by the Yutong Group to be used in a bus rapid transit project called BusCaracas. Inspired by Curitiba’s RIT and Bogota’s Transmilenio, the project was envisioned to aliviate the traffic problems of the capital. Instead, it has been marked by constant delays and revisions.

In 2008, the construction work on BusCaracas started with delivery promised 18 months later. A year later, the entire project was halted and the contracts with the companies involved were terminated. The national government took over, changing the plans and demolishing what had been built so far. Chavez himself admitted the failure, putting some blame on then Caracas Mayor Freddy Bernal.

The promise was to have it ready in 2010. It didn’t happen. Same thing with 2011.

The first buses started to arrive in May of this year. The only thing that is somewhat ready is the automatic door system. While most of the buses await on the Carabobo coast, the entire cost of BusCaracas has skyrocketed to $19 million and counting. Neither former mayor Bernal (today a PSUV deputy) or current mayor Jorge Rodriguez (too busy right now as head of Chavez’s reelection campaign) have been held accountable.

Even if there’s no exact date for the full activation of BusCaracas, local bus drivers are worried that the project could take their jobs away. The possibility of a partnership is unlikely, even if some of them are interested in joining in. It’s curious that at the same time TransMetropoli, the other public transportation system in Caracas is considered a success and its model could be taken into other parts of Venezuela.

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  1. There isn’t any urban project so flawed, so badly conceived, so useless, and so exploited to squeeze public funds as BusCaracas is. I still don’t know if there will be a city authority who’s got the balls to shut the thing down and restore what’s been destroyed because TransMetropoli is the right way to go.

    Though told in a light way, here’s a snippet in Spanish of what BusCaracas really means to professional architects:

      • Because the idea is a transplantation and not the result of careful consideration. You see, new paved roads are very hard to build within Caracas so you’ve got to treat existing ones like a scarce resource. BusCaracas is not a good solution because it reduces lane usability by 50% for all other types of vehicles. While a bus isn’t present the lane is idle and unavailable to other means of transport so you’re not maximizing usability of your scarce resource. To make matters worse, the new exclusive lane isn’t located by the sidewalk but in the middle of the road. Picture people getting in and out of a bus and trying to reach the sidewalk in Nueva Granada Ave. That’s unsafe and prone to waste additional time.

        A much more inexpensive and effective solution would be to implement a HOV lane by the sidewalk and allow buses only. For that, TransMetropoli would play a great role.

  2. Sure the Contralor General is on this, wait, is there a Contralor General?
    Remember, the last was Russian, and supposedly it was all ready to elect a new one, but then, they decided to continue with the temporal replacement… otherwise they should get someone with the approval of the opposition in AN or go to a public election, guess what… But why didn’t the opposition use this to get someone there?

    • You really think we could have gotten someone into the Contralor’s position? In this government?

      What country are you referring to?

      • I think so, why would Chávez then avoid the process? Because it had to be accepted by the AN with 2/3 (at least not the PSUV majority) or then it goes to a public election. And in the AN elections the opposition has had more than 50%! In the worst case chavismo wins, also, what could you lose?

        • I think if the opposition had at least tried, at least an opportunity not to follow Ch agenda, but imposing one. And making clear the importance of this position, why not?

  3. It is a shame that poor project management lead to traumatic results on things that are actually needed. Same with TransBarca, if in the future people want to do these things, there will be the remembrance of that failure in people’s minds.

  4. So, when Transantiago was implemented here in Chile, it was an EPIC fail. Doing these things right requires a lot of careful planning. One bad calculation and you end up with too few buses, or drivers of other bus lines furious and blocking the streets, or buses that don’t make it on time.

    I’m not surprised the government has delayed the launch of this thing. After all, it’s not like they’ve suffered politically from the capital’s chaotic streets. But try and change things only to make them worse – undoubtedly the outcome given how stupid these people are – and they *will* suffer.

    After all, the Caracazo began as a public transportation protest 25 years ago, and we’ve been paying the cost ever since.

  5. 19 million? That’s probably the comission charged by these crooks. If the article is correct the cost so far is around 300 million $ at the official exchange rate.


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