How to get around Santiago

You can cross the entire Chilean capital if you use the available transportation systems well. This guide will help you to understand how to get around Santiago.

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Versión en Español Cómo transportarse en Santiago

Santiago has on several occasions been recognized as the best city for doing business in Latin America. It is a cosmopolitan city, organized, with good commercial infrastructure and communications, very connected, and you can easily reach different places from it.

This guide explains how the main transportation systems in Santiago work.

Santiago Metro
The metropolitan railway is the most used means of transportation, as it is one of the fastest and most interconnected. Considered the most modern in Latin America and the longest in South America, it has five lines in operation: Line 1 (red), from east to west; Line 2 (yellow), from north to south; Line 4 (blue), from northeast to southeast; Line 4A (light blue), from southwest to southeast, and Line 5 (green), from west to southeast. A few weeks ago, President Michelle Bachelet announced the construction of a new one, line 6, which will run from the southwestern part of the capital to the northeast, and it is expected to enter operation in 2014.

How is it used? It operates with a prepay card called the Bip!, in addition to tickets, which cost approximately 400 pesos (approximately US$ 0.80). Note: the price varies according to the time of day.

Additional advice: you can combine with public buses (called micros) if you are using the Bip! Card, paying only a fraction of the trip’s cost.

Urban buses
Users can reach diverse parts of the capital with Transantiago, the new public transportation system implemented on 10 February 2007. It is comprised of trunk road services (identified as white buses with green stripes down their sides), which connect one part of the city with another along the city’s most important roads; and local services, which are specific routes within each of the service areas, which have a color and letter depending on the zone. You can find more information in the project description.

How is it used? As with the Metro, it works with a prepay card called Bip!. Some trips are complemented using the Santiago Metro services.

Taxis
As in all of the world’s big cities, Santiago’s taxis are available at any time and on the city’s main avenues. They can be identified by their black paint jobs with yellow roofs. They have a registration number and a taxi meter, which registers the distance traveled at the end of the trip. If you want to travel longer distances or go to places outside the city it is recommended that you negotiate a price with the driver ahead of time. To locate taxis, consult www.amarillas.cl.

Collective taxis
Commonly known as “colectivos,” these cars are a cheaper alternative to taxis. They are available all over the capital, though some of them have predefined routes that appear on the sign on top of the vehicle’s roof. In general, they await passengers outside Santiago metro stations as well as at certain central locations.

Colectivos with defined routes start on their way when they have filled all the seats, though you can also catch them anywhere along the route. At night, for an additional charge, they can take you to a specific address as long as it is near the route.

The “free” taxis can be found all over the city. They are generally quite safe in Chile, but it is always recommended that a friend write down the license plate number of the car you are getting into if it is very late or you are in very deserted areas.

This post is also available in Spanish