Urban and national transport

Buses, the metro and trains

Getting around in Chile is relatively easy with its comprehensive transport routes around the country.

Short distance buses

Short distance buses, also known as micros have a wide range of routes with cheap fares ranging from US$0.33 for a short trip.All buses are clearly numbered with a sign on the bus indicating the final destination. However final destinations can be the same for different routes, so make sure you carefully research the route you should take if you are getting off before the last stop.

Upon boarding, you will have to mention your destination and you will be issued a ticket which you should keep in case of inspection. Most bus drivers may not be able to communicate in English so a sound idea of your destination is highly advisable. Pickpockets often trawl micros so keep a close eye on your belongings.

Long distance buses

Chile has a variety of long-distance bus systems and known for their efficiency, however, prices and standards vary respective to the bus company you opt for. All major Chilean cities boast a variety of bus terminals with clearly-displayed timetables however it is important to take into account that many roads consist of gravel and dirt, leaving you in for a bumpy ride.

Long-distance buses usually have toilet facilities and some offer beverages and food on board. There are usually three types of seats on offer when choosing your ticket “Clásico”, “Semi-Cama” and “Cama”. The first is a standard bus seat, the second partially reclines back with a footrest and the latter reclines fully like a bed and comes with a pillow and blanket.

The two main bus companies in Chile are Pullman and Tur Bus . Both have a wide network of destinations around the country and have frequent traveler loyalty discounts. Promotions, also known as ofertas can be found outside the main summer season and students and pensioners can take advantage of discounts on their journeys. It is important to note that it may be difficult for expats and tourists to buy bus tickets online due to the fact many companies request you provide an RUT number (Chilean identification number.)

Metro

The Metro in Santiago is known as one of Latin America’s most extensive system with 5 lines and 108 stations making it the second largest after Mexico city. On weekdays the metro runs from 5am-12am, on Saturdays 6am-12am and on Sundays 8am until 11.30pm. The metro is part of the Transantiago , an integrated public transport network that also serves major bus routes.

The fare system on the metro includes an integrated fare, allowing a mixture of bus and metro services to be included on your route. A smart card called Bip! can be bought at all major ticket offices at a price of US$2.50, topped up with a minimum of US$2. During rush hour, fares cost around US$0.16 and are reduced to US$0.04 during low use hours. Senior citizen and student fares are also available.

Trains

Trains are slowly being pushed out the transport market by buses. Their lack of modernisation and infrequent timetables have made buses a far more popular choice however they offer more space and a variety of services on board including bars and sometimes restaurants. Trains run from Santiago, south until Talca, and from Chillán to Temuco and all leave from Estación Central. There is fast and reliable light rail service between Santiago and San Fernando called Metrotren. 


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