Transport and Comms
Chile Transport & Communications
Public transport throughout Chile is generally very good. Santiago boasts an exceptionally clean and modern underground metro system, a modern fleet of eco-buses, thousands of taxis with yellow roofs (and “colectivo” taxis that follow a set route), and inter-city buses that offer an extremely comfortable and inexpensive way to travel between the cities. As far as aeronautical services are concerned, Lan Chile www.lan.com offers a modern fleet of aircraft linking all main cities the length of the country and also Skyairline www.skyairline.cl .
Public Bus Network
In 2007 the public bus transport system underwent a complete overhaul and the older, noisy, polluting buses were taken off the streets to be replaced by modern, eco-friendly, quieter buses and operated by a new company called Transantiago. The system is reasonably good, but still congested. There are designated bus stops from where passengers can board buses, but like the metro passengers MUST have a PREPAID ticket called a “BIP” ticket, only available for purchase at specified sales points, including in the Metro stations as the Metro and Transantiago operate a combined ticketing system. The prepaid cards operate via a swipe system as you board the bus or go through the metro platform entrance gate.
Inter-City Public Buses
Inter-city public transport is usually very good. For long journeys the busses offer executive class comfort and on-board services.
Santiago Principal Intercity Bus Stations are:
For North &South:
Terminal de Buses Santiago, Metro Universidad de Santiago (Southern Exit).
For Vina del Mar/Valpariso:
Terminal de Buses Alameda, Metro Universidad de Santiago (Southern Exit).
For North & South:
Terminal de Buses San Borja, Metro Estacion Central
Terminal de Buses Santiago, Metro Universidad de Santiago
Taxis vary between the good level with good driver to less-than-reliable with questionable drivers. By law the taxi has to operate a taxi metre and give you a receipt. Not all taxis will have operational rear seat belts, although they are supposed to.
This is a taxi that follows a set route and has a set fare i.e. not metered.
In Santiago, the metro is excellent, clean, reliable and cheap. You need to by a “Bip” prepaid card prior to travelling on the metro and this will be automatically swiped each time you pass through the platform entrance barrier.
Phone & Internet
Chile is right up to speed with all the modern terrestrial and cellular phone technology on offer as well as broadband internet and wi-fi services in internet café’s, hotels and designated areas.
Most roads that are paved are well paved. Around Santiago there is a good ring road called Americo Vespucio with links and direct access from the any part of the to the airport. Some of these newer routes are lined with automated charge tolls that will automatically charge a card that is stuck on the inner side of the car windscreen as the car passes through infra red light beams. Rental cars will already have the charge card in the car and every time it is charged it will give off a quick “bleep” sound.
There is one major artery highway running from the north to south of the country that passes through Santiago called the “Ruta 5” or Panamericana. It is mainly two lanes each side but will run three lanes each side for about 100km north and south of Santiago. Connecting Santiago to the central coast are two other main highways, the “Ruta 68” that runs Santiago to Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar, and the “Ruta 78” that runs from Santiago to San Antonio which is also called the “Ruta del Sol”. These highways operate a pay toll system so make sure you have cash on you if you use them.
In more rural areas, in the mountains and certainly in the beauty spots roads will be unpaved, but laid with a hardcore top. To drive these roads it is advisable to use an off-road vehicle or a pick up truck 4 x 2 drive and in some more remote areas a 4 x 4 drive. These roads are generally good, but danger lies in getting punctures and from other drivers who drive too fast and hog the middle of the un-marked road. It is VERY easy to have a collision on these roads, even though there may not be much traffic using them.