Saturday, July 23, 2011

Morning Commute on the Transmilinio

Aaron and I both commute to work via public transportation for about 1 hour and 15 minutes each way. That is 2 1/2 to 3 hours of people watching per day. We laugh about thinking this would mean we worked in Emporia (and lived in Newton).

Our ethnographic perspective so far has noted the following most common behavior of people who accompany us on this commute.

Mamas and Daddies and Nannies cuddling sleeping babies
Talking on cell phones/texting/listening to ipods
Reading the newspaper, cramming for an exam, or studying English
Putting on make-up / beauty products, including curling your eyelash with a spoon.
Deep kissing / making out
Hovering over seats so as to not absorb the cooties of the person who sat before you.
Pushing, as hard as you can, as if your life depended on it.
Smelling of strangers who are packed in like sardines.

The construction costs for this system are 5.9 million US dollars per kilometer. There are nine lines, 114 stations, and it covers 84 kilometers of the city. There is a "daily ridership" of 1.6 million people. Aaron and I are always amazed that in our regular route, we rarely see the same people, even though we are riding at approximately the same time.

My good friend Elizabeth, who is a scholar told me about a study where the length of your commute is correlated to your degree of unhappiness. Uh oh.

Here is a pretty funny video about how to use the Transmilenio in English. It is a little outdated, but gives you an idea...


  1. I was hoping to see some spoon eyelash curling, but no luck. How do you like to spend your time while in transit? In the research you referenced, do you know if it made a difference if they were traveling in car vs. public? Going by public doesn't make me as happy as it does this narrator, but I like it much better than driving.

  2. so, i left jerry watching the transport video to help micah get clothes after his shower. then i helped eliza shower, then i showered myself and jerry was STILL watching colombian youtubes. he found a new anchor he'd like to watch more of. and now we know more about very traditional colombian breakfasts.

    thought you'd enjoy the image.

  3. yes, thank you. If Aaron is with me, we talk, and I am grateful for that uninterrupted (though not private) time together. If I am alone, I sleep, read, listen to podcasts, or make grocery lists).