The Metro experience on a dollar


Samuel Perez

Estación Aguacatala, Metro de Medellín.

Samuel Perez, Discoverer Staff Writer

Step by step I began going up the stairs leading to the Metro de Medellín. I arrived at the entrance of the Aguacatala Station, where the hot sun was already burning my skin, along with many other Metro users that were ready to take a ride on that busy Monday afternoon.

In the crowded, but well-cleaned Metro station, I was ready to start my journey and finally see if the Metro de Medellín was what every ‘paisa’ promises and proudly talks about: the best public transportation system in Colombia. But to live the Metro experience at its maximum level, I decided to carry only a single dollar $4.700.00 COP in my wallet, and see what I could afford with this.

From what I’ve been told by my parents, I had already been on the metro in my early years, something I don’t remember. This was my first time going alone, and due to this, I was naturally nervous but at the same time, felt responsible as a paisa to at least visit the metro of the city once in my lifetime.

Before hopping on the wagon, my Civica Card had to be recharged. This is the card Metro users utilize to pay for their rides. Contrary to what I thought before, The Metro does not take cash.

Users can recharge their card digitally with the Bancolombia app, going to the ticket office that every Metro station has, and even on the Civica App that is available for everyone. Now, when it comes to the prices, entering the metro costs from $1,260.00 to $3,280.00 COP, much less than the dollar I had to spend. Having this in mind, I recharged my Civica with the $4,700.00 COP in the ticket office, scanned the card on the turnstile and entered the metro, which only cost me $2,880.00 COP.

Before me stood another set of stairs, which lead to the Line A of the Metro. Thanks to the giant map that was to my left, I noticed this line goes north of the city, so I took it because this part of the city I know better.

It took the wagons about 3 minutes to come, and then I hopped on the Metro. As expected, it being a Monday afternoon when the Metro is almost at full capacity, there were no seats available. I remained standing and grabbed the poles.

The wagon was fairly quiet considering how busy it was. Surprisingly, there were no street vendors, like in most public transportation systems in Colombia. Most people looked like they were coming back from their jobs. Many of them had uniforms of different kinds and everyone seemed to be doing their own thing: some read, others watched a video on their phone, texted, and some even slept.

“Here in Medellín, we have what is commonly called “cultura metro”, everyone knows how important this system is for our city so we take very good care of it and respect each other,” Jennifer Mosquera, Metro user, said.

When it comes to the condition of the Metro, the wagons were clean and it looked like they had maintenance done recently.

“Each wagon is sent to the workshop at least once a week, and they are cleaned and disinfected every time they arrive to the last station of the route,” Maria Paula Martínez, a Metro employee at Estación Aguacatala, said.

The wagon passed through two stations, Estación Poblado and Estación Industriales, where I got off. The metro traveled almost 5 km in less than 10 minutes, including the couple of minutes it took at its stop in Estación Poblado.

I had already traveled 5 km, and if I wanted to, I could have traveled through the whole city without paying an extra penny. Once you are inside the Metro, there are other services you can take without paying extra, like the Metroplús.

The Metroplús is a bus system specifically made for rapid transit. It has exclusive lanes, which means that unlike normal buses, no other cars transit through its same lanes. This allows the bus to have a more agile mobilization.

To live the real Metro experience, it was necessary for me to try this system. On Estación Industriales, I crossed the bridge that connects the main station to the Metroplús station, and arrived at the first line of the Metroplús. This line goes from the Medellín University to the Aranjuez Park, traveling more than 10 km.

I got on board and luckily was able to get a seat, where I comfortably stayed through six stops until I arrived at Estación Hospital, which gets its name because of the hospital next to it.

Like the Metro, the Metroplús was clean, the people on board were respectful, and once again, I arrived to my destination in a matter of minutes. During the trip, I was able to eavesdrop on some conversations of other passengers, most of them being about the hot climate, their day and of how tired they were.

Now, it was time for me to return to Estación Aguacatala. I grabbed the Metro from Estación Hospital and headed South. This time, the route was longer, because it had to pass through 7 different stations to arrive at Estación Aguacatala. Luckily, I was able to grab a seat and got about 15 minutes of relaxation while I observed the cityscape until the metro stopped at the station.

Once I got down the wagon, I realized how far had I traveled from my starting point. To make it short, in just a matter of half an hour, I was able to use two different Metro services, got through 9 Metro stations, 6 Metroplús stations, traveled more than 20 km and only payed $2.880 pesos.

“The Metro de Medellín has brought the city a huge advancement in transportation, economy, and tourism. I use it everyday for work and it makes our lives easier. It is safe, affordable and efficient, I definitely think it is the best transportation system in the city and in the country by far,” Carlos Mario Flores, a construction worker, said.