Author: TU My Tran, ICLEI-WS
Since 2022 Bogota has had a new electric bus operator as part of the TransMilenio bus system. La Rolita was created by the city council, and it could offer a new, feminist, and environmentally friendly model of public transport.
La Rolita is the only public transport operator in Bogotà, created after five vacant public tenders. La Rolita operates 195 zero-emissions buses across 11 routes which serve 37,000 passengers daily. Besides creating 600 new jobs, La Rolita employs 229 female bus drivers with an eco-driving program to support female drivers in converting their C1 license into a C2 license.
La Rolita is changing gender stereotypes. It is proving one female driver at a time that women can drive electric buses daily in Ciudad Bolivar, a district south of Bogota, where the streets are steep, narrow, and often poorly paved. The job is not without risks; for this reason, cameras are installed on the bus for the security of the passengers, and drivers can press a panic button that sends the recording of 1 minute before and 5 minutes after to the IT and security team.
La Rolita is setting an example in several other ways too. Notably, its bus depot can accommodate up to 195 electric buses. Additionally, the fleet of electric buses in Bogota, which comprises 1,485 vehicles, is one of the largest in Latin America, along with Santiago de Chile’s fleet.