New electric tram set to connect Chile’s bustling capital

The 11-stop tram will connect Las Condes, Vitacura, and Lo Barnechea, allowing passengers to cover 5.5 miles (8.8 km) of Santiago in under 25 minutes.

Santiago is going from green to greener with plans for a new 11-stop electric tram now underway. The tram will connect the bustling municipalities of Las Condes, Vitacura, and Lo Barnechea in northeastern Santiago, allowing passengers to cover 5.5 miles (8.8 km) of Chile’s capital in under 25 minutes of travel time.

The mayors of Las Condes, Vitacura, and Lo Barnechea met recently to sign a project agreement alongside Chile’s Transportation Minister Pedro Pablo Errázuriz in one of the final steps before breaking ground on the project. The new tram is expected to be ready to ride in 2015.

Plans for the new tram include 13 simultaneously running trains, each with the capacity to hold 200 people. At peak hours the tram will run every four minutes; during off-peak hours, every 10 minutes. The tram will integrate seamlessly with the city’s Metro and bus system and will be payable by Bip! card, with a fare equal to that of a Metro ride.

Tram passengers will even be able to bypass traffic. The tram will travel in its own traffic lane, always have a green light at traffic signals, and never have to stop and wait at car crossings.

Trams will be powered by electricity and travel silently. In addition, each of the tram’s 11 stations will have electronic screens with real-time travel waiting time updates.

The project is not only good for the environment, but also for busy commuters, according to Los Condes Mayor Francisco de la Maza.

“This is a public transportation plan that will create an area that doesn’t pollute, and that is completely reliable in its frequency,” De la Maza said at the recent tram project agreement signing.

Santiago has enjoyed a long history of excellent public transportation options. Chile’s capital is believed to have offered the first animal-powered passenger tram on the South American continent, which opened in 1858. The city’s first electric tram system launched in 1900 and served the city for nearly 60 years, according to The Tramways of Chile by Allen Morrison. Santiago’s modern metro system is now the most extensive in South America, with 108 stations and 65 miles (108 km) of track.