Santiago’s ambitious public transportation transformation hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride.
Launched in February 2007, the Transantiago initiative
called for replacing the city’s outdated buses with energy-efficient versions. Those green machines would then be
rerouted to connect passengers more easily with the city’s
metro, an underground rail system that’s also being
It didn’t turn out to be so efficient.
Time magazine dubbed Transantiago “The Mass
Transit System From Hell” in late 2007.
Apparently, many residents agreed with the assessment and complained their commute times had more
At the time, the system was hemorrhaging more than
$1 million per day. To combat losses, Santiago’s metro
president requested a system-wide increase in fares in
late 2008, but when the price jump went into effect,
there was another project snag.
Software from Chilean IT firm Sonda wasn’t designed
to handle the fare adjustment, and officials said the glitch
could lead to further financial pain.
In 2008 alone, the system lost
$580 million and that number
could reach $550 million this
year—and that’s not counting the drop expected from
the IT problems.
Complicating matters was the fact that the metro
infrastructure also needs urgent assistance. And the
government looks to be planning a revamp. In December
2008, Business News Americas reported that Chilean
President Michelle Bachelet expressed interest in developing the city’s metro system in 2009.
To accommodate a growing number of metro passengers, Santiago will add capacity to two major lines,
adding 32 kilometers ( 20 miles) to the system. Scheduled
to begin in December 2009, the project will be run by
Systra S.A., a French consulting firm specializing in public transportation and project management. After the
upgrade, the metro system will connect 105 stations and
cover more than 104.5 kilometers ( 65 miles).
In the meantime, the work on Transantiago continues. In
March, the Chilean transportation ministry submitted a $1.5
billion financing request to congress to support the project
through 2014. The nation’s transport minister also proposed that the same amount be invested in other regional
transport initiatives during the same period.
BUS PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
largest mall. But populating the site
requires a large number of business
tenants, a tough proposition in the
“For now, it makes no sense to
keep construction going at its current
pace if we are unable to rent out the
installations of the Costanera Center,”
a Cencosud spokesperson told The
The paper also reported that
Chile’s Secretary of Labor called the
project closing “a worrying sign.”
The 300-meter (984-foot) structure will rank as Latin America’s
tallest building, but for now the completion date
remains a mystery.
HELP ON THE WAY?
Chile’s government is well-aware of the warning signs
and is taking action. In January, President Michelle
Bachelet announced a $4 billion plan designed to create 100,000 jobs. Beyond stimulating the economy, the
initiative would also open up opportunities for project
managers. Approximately $700 million may be earmarked for public-works projects ranging from repairing
streets to building schools.
“It will generate economic activity and jobs and leave
projects that will benefit the entire community for
decades,” said President Bachelet, according to the
But the real growth area for Santiago’s project managers might come from environmental endeavors.
MAY 2009 PM NETWORK
>>ON THE MAP: SANTIAGO, CHILE