October 31, 2008


Do Investments in Urban Public Transit Improve Employment Outcomes for Residents? Evidence from Bogotá, Colombia


1:40pm - 3:00pm


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


In 2000, the city of Bogotá, Colombia embarked on a grand land use and transportation system experiment. The keystone feature of the city’s transformation is the new TransMilenio bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The TransMilenio is a city-wide bus system that offers speed and convenience similar to that of an underground metro. Buses run in dedicated lanes, and riders purchase tickets as they enter covered bus-stops. TransMilenio is hailed worldwide as a tremendous success, and plans are underway to build similar infrastructure in several cities around the world. As these BRT systems multiply, understanding the full impact of these systems on urban employment becomes increasingly urgent.

In this work, we use labor market data from Bogotá to test whether this major investment in urban transit infrastructure actually improved employment outcomes across a city, and if so, for whom. Although transit advocates often suggest that this is true, we are not aware of any existing research that provides clear evidence for this hypothesis. Our findings are preliminary, but suggest that in fact access to the TransMilenio system is correlated with higher incomes.

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