Mooviter Without Borders: Improving Public Transit Information Across Latin America

Published: February 22, 2022

In 2015, Santiago Albarracín was on the search for a mobile app with information about public transportation in his hometown of Bucaramanga, Colombia when he discovered Moovit. “It was a recommendation from the app store,” he recalls. But the experience was frustrating since the app didn’t offer information about Bucaramanga. “The only Colombian city that had public transportation information available was Colombia’s capital, Bogotá.”

But Santiago decided to heed the invitation that appeared in the message: he became a member of the Mooviter Community and was the first one in Bucaramanga to contribute public transportation information to Moovit. After a few months, he was appointed a Moovit Ambassador for Colombia, and five years later, he has made contributions to 15 Colombian cities and is part of the team that regularly monitors and updates information about Bogotá. All this at the age of 20, while studying Social Communication – Journalism, after taking a technical course in systems.

“In Bucaramanga, I check and test the [public transit] information myself. These are bus lines that I know well and use regularly. For the other projects around the country, I cross-check information with official sources from governments and companies, I get in touch by email and phone. I led the mapping of Pereira, and after two years we managed to integrate all the information into the app. I count on the help of other ambassadors to do this, like Nico,” says Santiago. 

Santiago’s collaboration on the Bogotá project team took place in 2021, when a real need was met with an opportunity. Community members were quite busy updating local public transit information in Moovit due to the 2021 Colombian protests that took place throughout the country against increased taxes, corruption and health care reform proposed by the government, which affected bus schedules and routes. Santiago was invited to collaborate on updating and maintaining the transit information on the Bogotá project, performed well and eventually joined the team. 

Mooviter Without Borders

Soon, Santiago will have another national capital project under his belt, as he has begun contributing public transit information on Quito, in neighboring Ecuador. “It won’t be my first international experience with Moovit. In the Mooviter Without Borders project, I helped map Puntal Del Este, Uruguay. It has been great to meet other Ambassadors from Latin America and around the world,” says Santiago.

Santiago has found a real sense of community among the Moovit Ambassadors. He is constantly in contact with Julio Vallejo and Fabio Calderón, who also contribute to the Bogotá project and they plan to meet once the pandemic recedes. 

Asked what motivates him to be part of the Mooviter Community, Santiago says it goes back to his initial challenge finding public transit information: “It’s hard to find information about public transport. Even the signage posted at bus stops is sometimes not correct. I’m very critical of it and I enjoy helping others,” he says, backed with his five years of experience as a Mooviter but with the motivation of someone who just started. 

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