Bus land transport in Colombia is permitted to resume starting on August 1. Colombia authorized public land transport in municipalities with no or low impact by COVID-19.

With Decree 1076 defining the new phase of the national quarantine in Colombian, the government also permitted bus land transport starting on August 1 without the need for prior authorization from the Ministry of the Interior, as long as all biosafety protocols are followed.

Several Medellin Guru readers have asked when bus land transportation will resume in Colombia.

According to the Minister of Transport, Angela María Orozco Gómez:

This is a significant step for the reactivation of the public land transport service in the country, helping the inhabitants of the territory to continue mobilizing and those who depend on the activity to improve their situation. Thus, the municipalities without affectation or low affectation of the Coronavirus will be able to count on this service from the first of August.

More Details about Bus Land Transport Resuming in Colombia

There are well over 100 municipalities in Colombia without a single case of coronavirus. So, the impact is clear for these municipalities, bus transport can resume with the approval of mayors.

However, no exact definition was provided for “low impact from coronavirus” was provided where bus land transport is permitted without the need for prior authorization from the Ministry of the Interior, as long as all biosafety protocols are followed.

In those municipalities where there is a “moderate or high” impact from coronavirus, mayors can request authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to gradually activate inter-municipal bus service, starting with pilot plans.

The biosafety protocol for bus land transport in Colombia includes:

  • Mandatory use of face masks
  • Constant washing of the vehicles
  • Avoiding crowds in the transport terminals
  • Maintaining the distance of two meters in lines
  • The constant disinfection and cleaning of contact elements such as boards, gear lever, handlebars, handrails, doors, windows, etc.

Quarantine Impact on the Inter-Municipal Bus Industry in Colombia

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the bus transport industry in Colombia has been tremendous. There are bus routes between over 1,100 municipalities in Colombia.  And the companies in this sector reportedly have about 125,000 direct, formal employees.

Some bus routes have continued to operate between some cities in Colombia. But these have been very limited due to the quarantine only permitting travel in special cases.

Also, there has been an increase in illegal and informal transport between municipalities charging much higher prices than normal.

The Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Interior recently issued a joint circular to begin a gradual reopening of public bus land transport in Colombia.

However, according to Mariano Quintero, president of the National Association of Transporters, the recovery of this sector will be very difficult between now and December due to more than half of the companies could go into default and bankruptcy.

According to José Yesid Rodrígue, President of the Association for the Integral Development of Intermunicipal Transport, leaders of municipalities not impacted by COVID-19 and with low affectation, should “authorize the provision of legal service as soon as possible.”

The Terminal Sur bus terminal in Medellín

The Terminal Sur bus terminal in Medellín

Taking Buses to/from Medellín

Medellín is a city with a “high” impact from coronavirus. But there still have been some limited bus routes available. Transport of normal passengers by bus was suspended during the quarantine in Medellín except for persons with special permission.

To take a bus to Medellín during the quarantine you needed to:

  • Register on Medellín me cuida.
  • Fill out a Special Permission form online to enter the city.
  • Stay self-isolated for 15 days after arriving in Medellín.
  • Register with a transport company. You must be registered in the list of people authorized to travel that the transport companies deliver to the bus terminals in Medellín.

To take a bus from Medellín from one of the bus terminals, you needed to register with the transport companies, which will verify you are authorized for a trip. But with the quarantine ended in Colombia on September 1 and inter-city transportation permitted, special permission is no longer needed.

We have a separate guide to the bus terminals in Medellín, which has a list of bus companies in each terminal.

The Zeuss gas station in the San Carlos pueblo where you catch buses

The Zeuss gas station in the San Carlos pueblo where you catch buses

The Bottom Line: Bus Land Transport in Colombia Resumes Between Cities in Colombia

In July, Colombia resumed domestic flights with an initial route from Bucaramanga to Cúcuta. Additional domestic flight routes depend on the approval of the mayors and the approval of biosafety protocols in airports.

Starting in August, Colombia has now also authorized bus land transport in Colombia. This is primarily intended for municipalities with “no or low” impact of coronavirus. But municipalities with medium or high impact can conduct pilots of bus land transportation.

There are well over 1,000 municipalities in Colombia and each mayor will need to decide how quickly inter-municipal bus service will resume.

We have not yet seen a list of municipalities where bus service is resuming in Colombia. But we are aware some bus routes have been operating from Medellín.

We recommend contacting bus companies and bus terminals to see if bus service has resumed and the requirements for traveling. One big bus company that has their routes operating online is Bolivariano, which has daily buses running between Medellín and Bogotá.

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Editors note: updated on September 2, 2020 with information that the quarantine ended in Colombia on September 1, which eliminates the need for special permission for quarantine exceptions to travel by bus.

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