Eco-Friendly Transportation in Santiago, Chile
While in some ways a beautiful and tourist-friendly city, Santiago, Chile is also known to have air pollution bad enough that you can barely see the Andes “cordillera” in certain parts of the city, even though it may be no more than a mile away. The smog (or “esmog” as the Chileans pronounce it) is so heavy that the city limits the number of days cars can drive as well as the use of wood-burning stoves. Check it out:
No socially conscious tourist wants to contribute to that kind of smog. Happily, eco-friendly transportation options in Santiago are numerous.
- The metro system is the largest in South America, having 5 different color-coded lines and more than 100 stations. Depending on the day of the week and the time of day, one trip costs 380-460 pesos, or about 64 to 78 cents (American) as of this writing. Students pay only 130 pesos (22 cents) all the time.
- If you’re used to buses in the U.S., the bus system in Santiago (and many other Latin American cities) will amaze you. In the process of a systemic overhaul, most buses still post major neighborhoods and streets they go to on a sign in the front window of the bus, however there are now fewer buses that go long distances (from one side of the city to the other). For that, you’ll have to transfer which you can do up to three times for free within 90 minutes of your first bus payment. To board a bus, simply wait at a stop until you see a bus with your general destination, hail it with you hand, get on, and hope you recognize your destination when you come to it. A bus trip is 380 pesos (64 cents) or 130 pesos for students. Most tourists seem to be intimidated by the buses; have no fear, folks are friendly and the rides are quite safe. You might even be treated to the opportunity to buy an ice cream or other treat by the occasional vendor. Note you cannot pay in cash on buses anymore. You must buy a card which you load. For more information on rates and cards, go to the Metro Santiago webpage.
- Finally, colectivos are used a lot in Santiago. They look like taxis but have a specific route with a fixed fee. You will share the colectivo with one to three other people who are also going that route. Colectivos range in cost based on their route, typically between 500 and 1,000 pesos, or 84 cents to $1.70.
We encourage you not to rent a car as you will be adding to the air pollution in Santiago. Similarly, if you are on your own or with one other person, try not to use taxis – use a colectivo instead. Muchas gracias!