The Metro Culture

The Metro light rail system is seen by the city as more than just an effective means of transportation. It also is viewed as a means of cultural transformation. It is  set up as a model for people to emulate in the rest of their civic life. Sometimes people here have not been careful about littering, have considered the commons as their personal domain or have not taken law and rules seriously. Some of these characteristics are still prevalent in day-to-day city life but inside the Metro system people hold themselves to a higher standard. Even when the trains are full at peak travel times and a couple more need to get on, an effort is made to accommodate them politely. There is a lot of smiling and commiseration but rudeness or selfishness is rare. The elderly disabled or pregnant are generally offered seats. The stations are spotless and the service is cordial.

The following is my translation of the systems explanation of “The Metro Culture.” It reflects the social orientation which permeates much of Colombia’s efforts to move the country forward.

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The Metro Culture is understood as the compendium of the social and educational management model the Metro has built, consolidated and delivered to the city. It is deemed worthy to be adopted in its entirety or in parts by other cities and institutions which propose the development of a new civic culture including harmonious coexistence, good behavior, solidarity, respect for the basics norms of use of public goods, self respect and respect for others.  In 1994 the process of user education was officially incorporated into the mission of generating a new culture in the inhabitants of the Aburrá Valley (Translators note: the valley where Medellin is located), using the Metro system as a pretext for the community to adopt rules of behavior and coexistence.

At the same time, a Community Relations process was stipulated in order to consolidate positive relations with station neighbors and generate a sense of belonging and an attitude of care and preservation of the Metro as a natural response to the benefits obtained by the community from Metro service, improvements, urban works and improvements in the quality of life.

User education is a work based on believing in people’s goodness, in their capacity to follow rules and assume responsibilities and participate actively in the delivery of a service that is successful to the extent to which the user himself participates actively.

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