Chances are high that if you are reading this, you are from a country where every metro you have been in smells bad and there is trash laying around everywhere. In the Medellín Metro, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Medellin Metro is one of the most prestigious symbols of the city of Medellin. It is one of the many projects that were undertaken in the last couple of decades to improve the city and break the slur of criminality. The Medellin Metro is the only Metro system in the country one of the first implementations of modern mass transportation in Colombia
The Medellin Metro allows rapid transit from North to South, and from Centre to West. The total track length is 31,3 kilometer and comprises 27 stations. On this grid, 80 trains transport upwards of 215 million people on an annual basis and this number is increasing year after year.
History of Medellín Metro
The Medellín Metro is not the first railway system in Medellín, Antioquia. In 1874, construction started on the Antioquia Railway which took 55 years to complete until 1929. For decades, this railway made it possible for regions to link up with each other that previously had been isolated. Therefore, this railway system was a large contributor to the economic development in the region. As time passed, other ways of transportation were made possible with the construction of roads. This led to a decline in the use of the Antioquia Railway and it was eventually sold in 1961.
In the 1960 and 1970’s, Medellín saw huge waves of migrants flowing in from the countryside looking for a better life. This led the city to expand into other villages and towns such as Envigado and Itagüí. Medellín rapidly turned from a provincial town into one of the most economically important cities in the country of Colombia. The speedy urban growth produced some serious problems. Violence increased because the needs of the communities were not answered quickly enough. The decision to build the Medellín Metro was made not only because of the increased population, but also to serve as a cultural symbol that would help develop the lives of the poor.
Research into the economic and technological aspects of the Medellín Metro began in 1979 by a British civil engineers firm called Mott, Hay and Anderson. The plan was presented to the Colombian National Government in 1980 and the National Council of Economic and Social Policies approved the project in 1982. Construction began in 1983 and it took twelve years to finish until 1995, when the first ride took place between Poblado and Niquía.
More stations were added in the following years to reach more parts of the city and connect them to the rest. The number of trains also increased because the number of people using the metro was increasing every year. The last major change happened as recently as 2020 with the reactivation of the train between Caldas and Bello.
The construction of the Medellín Metro achieved its two desired effects. First, it connected people from isolated parts of the region with the rest of the city. Travel times were sometimes reduced by a stunning 75%. It’s also way more easy to travel to beautiful parts of the city that often get overlooked by tourists. Second, the social and cultural impact was immense and that still holds up until this day. The Medellín Metro is an important symbol of the city which is still enforced by its citizens today. If you put your feet up on one of the seats, someone will quickly ask you to take it off. You will find no trash on the metro or unpleasant stenches. Furthermore, the metro is a safe way to travel in the city although you have to be careful of pickpockets.
Additionally, the Medellin MetroCable system was added as a complementation to the Medellín Metro. Construction was completed in 2004 and it connects parts of Medellín that were isolated because of the hills and mountains surrounding the city. Research indicates significant links between the implementation of the Metrocables and substantial decreases in crime rates within the neighborhoods where the Medellín Metrocable system has been established.
Medellín Metro Card
You can use a Medellín Metro Card for as many people as you like. The Card itself costs 10.000 COP (roughly between 2 and 2,5 euros or dollars). You can only pay cash.
When you walk into a Metro station, walk up to the ticket booth (taquilla).
Ask the person for a new card (Tarjeta Civica) and add as much credit on it as you like.
Walk with your card to the turnstile and use the Medellín Metro system!