On Oct. 5 President Sebastian Piñera made a speech at the new Laguna Sur Metro station in honor of the soon-to-be completed work on Santiago’s Metro Line 5. The extension has been constructed in two phases. The first phase, which opened in January, extended the existing line five kms west toward the airport. The second phase will turn south and run nearly nine kilometers into Santiago’s southwestern suburbs. This phase is expected to reach completion between December 2010 and February 2011. The 12 total stations of the two extensions, which together cover 14.2 kms, are expected to serve 300,000 passengers daily.
The Santiago metro’s system director Raphael Bergoeing estimates that the extension will cut travel time from the peripheral district, Maipú to the central Plaza de Armas to 26 minutes. By car or bus this trip takes about 45 minutes without traffic, but on Santiago’s busy highways it often takes far longer.
President Piñera also plans two entirely new lines for the system to open in 2014. First proposed in 2009, Line 6 is already in development, says Bergoeing. The new Line will run nearly 15 kms from the southwestern district of Pedro Aguirre Cerda as far as Vitacura in the northeast. The 12 intermediate stations will run along the southern edge of central Santiago, through residential districts otherwise inaccessible by Metro.
President Piñera also mentioned plans for Metro Line 3, which will connect the northwestern periphery of Santiago with the city center and the populous residential district of Ñuñoa. The sixteen stops currently plotted for the line will connect it with all of Santiago’s other metro lines and allow easier access to the popular bars and restaurants on Plaza Ñuñoa.
The Santiago Metro is already the second most extensive in Latin America after Mexico City’s, covering about 90 km and carrying over 2,000,000 passengers daily. New Metro lines are expected to alleviate congestion on the current system.