Enjoying the view from a double-decker bus in Argentina. I'm talking about good public transportation. But once we got to the nearest town, we discovered that there was no transportation to take us to the trails inside the park. Our only option was to hitchhike, and that is how we took a 6-mile ride in the back of a garbage truck. In the more developed countries of South America, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, bus travel can safely be called the best in all of the Americas. Avoid driving at night under any circumstances, since you will not be able to detect dangers and obstacles as clearly as during the day. Find the highest rated Public Transportation software in South America pricing, reviews, free … A modern system: Rapid transit buses are a minimum requirement. Except for commuter trains, few railroads in South America today are a vital part of public transportation. As a word of warning, hitchhiking can be dangerous no matter where you are, and I do not recommend it as a main mode of travel. Bring a small pillow or sweater to use as a pillow. I'll admit, I have yet to go to Rio, but I've talked to friends who are from there or who have been there, and it just doesn't serve as big an area as it should. However, we already had purchased the tickets, and after watching our backpacks being strapped onto the roof rack and covered with a large tarp, we embarked on our journey. And as you travel around the country, you might find yourself trying to strike a balance between practicality, cost, comfort, and safety when it comes to the various methods of transport available. Customer Support. Right now I'm happy in Bogotá, where I don't need a car. Riding the Subte, as it is often called, felt like using the New York Subway: it's old and dirty but gets you where you need to go. This includes various forms of bus, rail, ferry, and sometimes, airline services. On popular routes between major cities, you often have the choice between several different comfort categories, from conventional to luxury class, and you will have the option to travel in comfortable and quiet double-decker buses with reclining seats, clean bathrooms, meals, onboard movies, and direct service. America’s rural population is declining, but … In addition to stimulating economic development, routes such as the Transamazonian Highway and the Marginal de la Selva Highway linking the countries on the east side of the Andes, constructed since the 1970s, also represent attempts to spur development. Bus travel is the most common form of public transportation in South America, both for short- and long-distance travel. As it stands right now, that line is not open. And the cost isn't really a factor either, because it's almost the same at all of them, usually somewhere around $1.25, give or take 50 to 75 cents, prices cheaper than the D.C. Metro or New York Subway and cheaper than a taxi in any of the cities these systems serve. Santiago might be one of the dullest big cities I've ever visited, but when it … First off, it is not worthwhile in South America to hitchhike long distances to save money. The unpredictability of road travel in South America makes it both an adventure and a challenge. It's worth the sacrifice to ride to the Usaquen, Bogotá's prettiest neighborhood. Public transportation in these cities operate with diesel vehicles and, in fact, 95% of cities in the region offer nothing but diesel-operated public transport, both buses and taxis. National Infrastructure Commission. Busbud makes it a breeze to search, Figures for daily ridership, number of vehicles, and daily vehicle revenue miles are accurate as of 2009 and come from the FTA National Transit Database. I know it’s not really relevant to the topic of the blog post, but just in case someone came here by chance to look at the map for directions. But we arrived. In remote areas, on the other hand, you might find yourself traveling on a dirt road in the back of a large pickup truck, sitting on a wooden bench crowded with local passengers, and surrounded by barrels of smelly diesel fuel. The more developed countries have a modern highway system that connects all major cities, but divided highways are rare, and most major highways are just paved two-lane roads. In remote areas, on the other hand, you might find yourself traveling on a dirt road in the back of a large pickup truck, sitting on a wooden bench crowded with local passengers, and surrounded by barrels of smelly diesel fuel. And a journey it was, or rather more like an Odyssey. Although strongly committed to independent travel, there are times when I have booked day trips with travel agencies to see local attractions and visit places that would otherwise be inaccessible. Be prepared, however, as the quality of bus travel varies enormously depending on the route, region, and country in which you are traveling. Overland routes are often outmoded and very slow, with an aging running stock of trains and badly maintained rails. If you decide to travel by bus, I suggest bringing a good road map. Keep in mind that most traffic, except for trucks, is local, and you should be ready to travel in just about any vehicle that has four wheels with an engine. Windows were cracked or did not open; there was no air conditioning, and the seats were worn out with the backrests immovable or often entirely broken. One of the main characteristics of public transport in developing countries is the private ownership of buses which implies the development of a very important public/private partnership. My first hitchhiking adventure in South America was a rather unglamorous ride. You will often find sheep using the road as well when you travel across South America. There is certainly no train that connects any country. Get off the bus at every stop and stretch your legs. The first Subterraneo line opened in 1975 and today the system is extensive and modern, a primarily underground maze of trains that serves more than 6 million people, and it works great. Hi, I'm Dave and I've been backpacking for 20+ years. The Fact Book provides a wide range of data for all public transportation systems, including those that do not report to the National Transit Database. A friend of mine and I had decided to go hiking in Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park, located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It also builds thriving communities, creates jobs, eases traffic congestion and promotes a cleaner environment. You will have to rely on your private car for transportation in most cases. © Volker Poelzl. The road up the Andes to La Paz often narrowed to a one-lane dirt road, and the many hairpin turns made it seemingly impossible to spot oncoming traffic. I remember some years back that I could not book a flight from the Bolivian Amazon to the capital La Paz. Monitor the impact on your business. I'm going to catch hell for this from some readers when they get to No. Among the most memorable train rides include the trip up the Andes from Lima to Cuzco. The locals are accustomed to the regional road conditions and regularly travel on roads that most travelers from North America and Europe would consider unsafe and dangerous. I don't care about cleanliness or crowding because I've dealt with crowding so often in New York and Washington, D.C., including a dirty Subway in the Big Apple. Road conditions are often unpredictable on long overland routes in much of South America, and urban traffic is so chaotic and congested that renting a car is not always a safe and enjoyable means of getting around. Air travel is still expensive for the majority of South Americans and most travelers take the bus, often on long-distance and overnight routes. Railway travel in South America is therefore mostly for the weekend railroad aficionado. As I said earlier, I don't care about cleanliness as a factor for these rankings, but I am impressed when I see it, and the Subterraneo in Santiago has it. The number of rural and small town public transit agencies has increased over the past two decades to approximately 1,400 agencies (2014). Paul Theroux’s memorable travel tale, "The Old Patagonia Express," described traveling from Boston to the tip of South America by train. Wherever there is a road, you can travel there by bus, shared minivan, or truck. It is a lifeline for millions of Americans connecting them to people, places and possibilities. 4. They cannot only destroy the suspension of your car but can also cause serious accidents. Here is a list of cities that currently provide all or some of its public transport for free. The Best Transportation Systems in South America 1. All of that is great. "Running out of road". Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, mass transit, ... ^ – Planetizen Archived 28 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine South America Incubates Cable Propelled Transit Retrieved on 10 June 2010 ^ Andrew Gilligan. Trains in South America are few and far between. to bus operators. When we boarded the neatly painted bus and quickly realized that the interior did not reflect its external appearance. Click here to contribute! That's fine. But for the most part, railroads in South America today are dedicated to transporting ore, timber, and grain to the nearest port and do not offer passenger service. The Andean mountains, the vast Amazon basin, and extensive flood plains in low-lying areas are formidable obstacles to road construction, and road travel can be a significant challenge in these parts of South America to this day. I just need to get to as many places as possible without a car, and the Transmilenio covers a lot more ground than the Medellín Metro system. Since competition is fierce between bus companies, the level of comfort and service is an important factor to attract customers. and all around the world. The road up the Andes to La Paz often narrowed to a one-lane dirt road, and the many hairpin turns made it seemingly impossible to spot oncoming traffic. Transportation Industry 2020 - South America Market Research & Statistics. However, during my first yearlong stay in South America I discovered that road travel on this vast continent is not as easy as maps suggest. The journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is something everyone should try once. This list may not reflect recent changes . Be prepared, however, as the quality of bus travel varies enormously depending on the route, region, and country in which you are traveling. But as a budget and independent traveler, I have found hitchhiking very useful for short routes which lack public transportation, and where the only other option would be a very expensive taxi ride. Public transportation in Peru includes everything from modern air fleets to antiquated trucks. Expect road conditions to deteriorate in remote areas and developing countries or regions, even though your map may indicate a major highway. Many of them were built in the late 19th century in order to demonstrate a country’s modernity and progress, but little remains of these railroads today. Most travelers fall into bus travel in South America because it’s the cheapest way to get around. The list excludes charter buses, private bus operators, paratransit systems, and trolleybus systems. Car rentals and train travel aren't the most feasible options, but flying is very common, of course. I care about safety, but I've seen police so often at the public transportation systems on this list, I don't think much about it, other than protecting myself against pickpockets, something I do everywhere. Wherever there is a road, you can travel there by bus, shared minivan, or truck. There are over 6,700 bicycles available, with a small number of these part of the new electric bike system. Busbud is In more auto-centric suburban localities, public transit is … However, those travelers who already have experience hitchhiking might like to learn more about what to expect when doing so in South America. What I've been surprised to learn is how great it is in some of South America's more modern cities, because, well, even many U.S. cities that could use it don't have it. The Mexico City Metro has the highest passenger ridership from a single operator in Latin … The few short historic routes in South America are often operated by old steam engines. For me, using the Buenos Aires Subte was easier than crossing Avenida 9 de Julio, the 14-lane thoroughfare — 18, if you count the two-lane access roads flanking each side of the avenue — that is the widest in the world. I went to the local bus company, and they showed me a nice album of brightly painted and beautiful buses that would make the trip to La Paz, some 10,000 feet up the Andes, in about 48 hours. Take along some snacks, reading materials, a music player, and earplugs, if you are concerned about noise on an overnight bus ride. Pleased with the pictures of the new buses I was shown, my girlfriend and I bought the last two available seats. I have traveled extensively throughout the continent and feel I can make a fair hypothesis on the topic. Latest APTA News Commuter Rail Industry Achieves Positive Train Control Certification (Dec. 29) Consolidated Appropriations Act Includes Vital Emergency Funding for Public Transportation (Dec. 21) APTA Congratulates Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Nomination as Secretary of Transportation (Dec. 15) All Rights Reserved. Public Transit Use: 6%. Buses in South America are efficient and easy. APTA statistical products serve as the definitive resource for industry statistics, primarily the annual Fact Book. I’m glad you made this post. Volker Poelzl is a Living Abroad Contributing Editor for TransitionsAbroad.com. Commonly utilized transit around Baltimore includes buses and … © 1997-2020 Transitions Abroad Publishing, Bus Travel in South America is really quite great. Bus travel is the most common form of public transportation in South America, both for short- and long-distance travel. The profile also contains descriptions of the leading players including key financial metrics and analysis of competitive pressures within the market. Go Backpacking uses and recommends: I could be slightly mistaken, but I don’t think line six for Santiago metro runs anymore, I have seen them working on a line 3 however (which might be line six in disguise). South Africa - South Africa - Transportation and telecommunications: South Africa contains no navigable rivers; coastal shipping provides the only water transport. There was far more hardship, unexpected adventures, and delays than most travelers desired. Read More…, About | Archive | Travel Resources | Submissions | Work With Us | Contact, Top 5 Public Transportation Systems in South America, The Best Transportation Systems in South America. The United States isn't exactly synonymous with gleaming public public transportation. Roads are regularly destroyed by rock and landslides in the mountains, and in the low-lying areas, roads are washed out and become impassable during the rainy season. We're here to make your next trip your best trip! Its first section opened just over a hundred years ago, in 1913, and today it covers quite a bit of the Buenos Aires area, which is home to almost 13 million people. Maybe someday, as Medellín grows, and more additions are completed in the system, I can move this up. Interesting post though :). Latin-American bus rapid transit (BRT) systems are being implemented around the world thanks to their cost effectiveness compared to rail systems. Keep in mind that hitchhiking is much easier if you speak a few words of the local language. Yes, I'm taking Recife over Rio de Janeiro for the same reason I picked the Transmilenio over the Medellín Metro: extension. If you plan on long-distance road travel, the geography of the region will tell you a lot about the type of road conditions to expect. In large part this is because the majority of people in London still use their own car to get around. a useful new site that connects travelers Many tours and excursions are hawked on the streets of tourist destinations, and you should compare prices and itineraries before signing up for a tour. However, we already had purchased the tickets, and after watching our backpacks being strapped onto the roof rack and covered with a large tarp, we embarked on our journey. You will also be able to strike up conversations with the driver—which often prove to be as interesting and insightful as any part of your travels. This amenity ranks near the top of my list for ranking a city, an amenity found in the city I live in today and the two before that. That’s certainly true, but oddly enough, we’ve grown to love this method of overland travel for plenty of other reasons. Horizon Guides, provides a free PDF guide for traveling in South America by Bus. Here I'll tell you why I like the Transmilenio. Transportation ; Publication dates. I have hitchhiked in 20 countries worldwide, and except for Europe, South America is the continent where I have traveled the most by thumbing rides. Peru, Chile, and Argentina maintain several long-distance railways, some of which are very scenic. You can also find websites that will sell such bus tour packages and book in advance. Industries. An extensive system: This is the most important factor, more so than anything else because the point of public transportation is to get to as many places as possible, as quickly as possible, without a car. The Recife system is nothing special, but it seems to serve more people than the system in Rio, where the system is basically one line — albeit a very long line — but I can't imagine one line is enough for a metropolitan area of more than 12.5 million people. He has extensively traveled in South America, both by air and on the ground. Some driving hazards are human-made. National Infrastructure Commission. I'll start with the good stuff. For the pro-Metro readers who are aghast now over its ranking below the Transmilenio, let me explain. On the other hand, regional car rental for a few days can be an enjoyable alternative to public transportation. In the words of four-time Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Belichick, we're on to the list! Top content on South America and Transportation as selected by the EV Driven community. The public transportation systems in my open in SA are better than most places in the USA. Santiago Subterraneo. I love how modern the system is, with its above-ground trains, rapid transit buses, cable cars, and soon, a tram east of downtown. I remember some years back that I could not book a flight from the Bolivian Amazon to the capital La Paz. The Subterraneo in Buenos Aires has everything Santiago does except modern train cars. Since then I have hitched rides in the back of timber trucks, cattle trucks, pick-up trucks, and old sedans crowded with family members on a weekend excursion. But I'll worry about defending it in the next section. However, in most places, public transportation is poor. Perhaps an even more exciting advancement in public transportation options is Olli, a self-driving pod that can either fill in gaps in transit routes or act as an on-demand shuttle service, all while making the roads safer and bringing public transit access to a wider range of riders. Inc. You have much more flexibility, and since you will only be traveling short distances you will not be entirely exhausted and worn out from the challenges of the road. The following is a list of presently-operating bus transit systems in the United States with regular service. Nevertheless, there are currently some notable exceptions. ITS in Public Transport Daily Life in South America. It's a lot cleaner than the Transmilenio as well. The U.S. did stop building rail, despite much talk among American planners of “balanced” transportation plans that included both highway and public transit improvements. Still, there are pockets of efficient transit in select cities. Train travel in South America (Click here) Seat61 provides information on Train Travel in South America. When we boarded the neatly painted bus and quickly realized that the interior did not reflect its external appearance. 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