Sunday, September 23, 2012

Transportation in Lima

So you're traveling to Lima, probably on your way to some guidebook paradise.  It's a big city.  How do you get around?

Well, you have a few options.

Yes, you can in fact walk.  Lima is not a walking city.  It's a place where the car is king and therefore its not always the most pedestrian friendly.  They give right of way to highways meaning you can lose a sidewalk here and there.  But fear not, because Lima has poor people and poor people walk. So when the sidewalk ends, just look for a goat path and there will be people who have blazed their own trail.  Oh, and get used to the smell of exhaust.  It's like the natural scent of the city.

These are buses.  They look like buses and there's a driver who takes your money.  They don't seem to be run by the city, so they're all different colors but usually have the destinations on the side so you can figure it out.  Good idea to have a map to point to so you can make sure the bus doesn't take any crazy turns.   


These are small buses.  And there's a lot more of them, and they're all private so there's some competition.  They have two employees.  One is a driver.   The other is the guy in the photo.  He is way too calm in this photo.  Basically as the Micro approaches a stop, which is where more than 1 person happens to be standing.  Even if they're only there because they had to fart and they were scared it might be a shart so they stopped to compose themselves.  As the Micro approaches 20 mph, the side door opens and this guy hangs out of it yelling and screaming random destinations and self-help slogans.

Honestly, I would pass on these.  I'm sure they transport thousands of Limenos safely to their destinations every day, but as someone who's Spanish isn't great, its a lot of pressure.  These things are wild.

El Metropolitano

As mentioned earlier, this is the brandy-new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in Lima.  And it's really popular and is able to bypass lots of traffic.  Which is good, because Lima has a lot of traffic.  You pay the fare at the above ground station and then walk down to the platform which is located in the median of the highway.  Some tips:
  • Have cash.  Preferably small bills.  No one like the guy in front of him at the Dunkin Donuts that pays with a $100.  These people don't either. 
  • The card costs 4.5 soles, so if you buy one with a 5 sole note, that means you only have .5 soles credit.  One of our guides lied and said that the card was 5 soles and came with 2 one-way rides.  Mentiroso! 
  • The ride is 1.5 soles each way.  So budget accordingly.  
But the bus goes from the city center through Miraflores and San Isidro to Barranco, which is where most people are going to spend their time.  So it's a good deal if you're there for a few days.


This is by far the most popular way to get around Lima.  The cabs are everywhere and some seem to just be personal cars.  But the important thing to know is that cabs in Lima do not use meters.  So you MUST decide the fare before you get in.  Cabs understand this and will actually queue behind each other while you discuss costs so they can try and make a better deal than the guy in front of them.  The general rule is 8-10 soles for most medium distances.  However, because traffic in Lima sucks they might charge more which makes sense.
This is a photo I took from my hotel balcony.  It's like a parking lot.  But that doesn't stop the horns.  A second on this.  Horns or Klaxons en espanol, in Lima are like an urban soundtrack.  People honk because they're angry, happy, or have gas.  There's really no rhyme or reason to it.  I recorded the noise to go with this photo, here. 

Peru is still viewed as a dangerous place, so Western hotels will take advantage of this and offer you the services of their taxis which can be nice Camrys or Audis.  These vehicles do not have turbo boost though and have to sit in the same traffic as the yellow deathbox shown above.  The hotels want 50 soles to take you to places that regular cabs will charge 8 soles for.  So here's the deal, never take the hotel cabs, unless you're a single female or wear suits of money.  The way I look at it, even if you get ripped off by your cab driver at 25 soles for the trip, you're still coming out ahead of the hotel gouging.

Oh, and you should look for these cabs as they're widely agreed by Limenos to be the most safe and reliable company.  


There's a subway in Lima, but it doesn't go anywhere that useful, and its not underground.  There is a second line being built underground, but the folks down there are skeptical what with the earthquakes and all.  So I'm not including it here because I didn't take it and it seems like I wasn't missing much.  


Unknown said...

First of all, I want to add something about the Lima transportation system. Micros are the most common means of public transportation in Lima and many other cities in Peru. If anyone wants to see beauties of this city, then cycle would be best for you because there are more than 100 cycle paths available in the Lima city.
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