I already posted some thoughts on transport in South Africa. I always have a keen eye for transport.
Here in Santiago, and seemingly in other places in Chili, public transport is fascinating.
In Santiago there are five layers of transport.
Metro. Clean, efficient and frequent.
Buses. So frequent you do not need a timetable. Just show up and your bus will whiz by in the next few minutes.
Micro. Smaller buses which go to remote places on either side of Santiago and all the way through Santiago. And amazingly just as frequent as buses.
Collective taxis. These taxis have set routes and can take up to four passengers. If you want a ride sign them as they go by, if there is still some room you are welcome in. Ask then to stop anywhere on their route. There are no fixed times, but they are easy to spot. They look like regular taxis but with a big sign on the roof showing the end parts of their route. And the beauty is that they cost the same as buses.
Taxis. They are like those you find all over the world. The meters work and the cost is clear. You get charged for every 200 meters or 60 seconds whatever comes first.
This organisation has three main advantages.
Cost. It is affordable
Frequency. There is always something coming your way
Extent. Any two points seem to be easily accessible.
Of course like all public transport it is not always as convenient as one would like and you might want to go to some point which forces you to change a couple of times of form of transport. But overall this system is so efficient that it is a very viable alternative for all those who do not have cars. And that is a great majority of those we met.
For the newcomer the only confusing part is that there are so many routes and bus stops that it is virtually impossible to use the micro or collective taxis. But once you are introduced to the system, it works very efficiently. Getting down at the right stop is sometimes a little tricky for the buses and micros will only stop if asked to… and you must know where that is.