I am not a fan of the Transmilenio.
I’m talking about the overly celebrated transport system that emerged in Bogotá when plans for an underground metro faltered (said plans have since been resurrected, but don’t hold your breath)
Transmilenio is essentially a series of large, bendy buses with their own lanes, which move between clearly-marked stations (Ssshh, it’s basically an overland version of London’s Tube).
The reason for my dislike is threefold:
1) There are either too many passengers or too few buses in the world of Transmilenio. Use it at the wrong time and you’ll find yourself in a frantic sardine sandwich.
2) The timetable is not a timetable. It’s a series of complex colours, codes, numbers and letters designed to cause you the utmost confusion the moment your bus arrives.
3) Colombians see queuing as an opportunity, not a necessity. Your typical Transmilenio user forces his way to the front of the crush, realises he is about to board the wrong bus (see 2) then provides a helpful entry barrier to anyone else who may wish to board.
The regular bus is also 300 pesos (10p) cheaper.
But lately I’ve been forced to grit my teeth. Transmilenio is faster and more reliable and well, I seem to be using it once a day at the moment.
It was on one of these journeys that I first noticed ‘The Sign’. A picture of a man apparently thrusting his groin at a female passenger, with some Spanish (No queremos ese apoyo) I couldn’t quite translate.
I couldn’t for a minute believe I was seeing an ‘anti-groin thrusting’ poster so I took a copy to some friends.
They burst into laughter.
“This happens, this happens,” one of them laughed.
“You know, there have been scandals on the Transmilenio with men fitting tiny cameras to the knee of their trousers, filming up women’s skirts and then posting the results on YouTube.”
It sounded like an urban myth and I must have looked disbelieving.
“Ha Vicki, I can’t believe you haven’t seen this,” another chipped in.
“In fact, if you’re a man, this is the best way to exit Transmilenio when it’s busy. Thrust out your groin and everyone will move out of your way,” he demonstrated helpfully, with a violent hip movement.
Later, my flatmate Gustavo confirmed that groin thrusting was indeed a problem on the popular transport network.
“It’s not every passenger obviously,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“But maybe one in a hundred or something apparently do it, only when the Transmilenio is really full.”
It turns out the slogan is also unintentionally comical when it is translated into English. It reads something like: “On Transmilenio, we don’t want this support.”
So there you go boys. No groin thrusting please.