>My love/hate relationship with Transantiago

>Outside of major cities or places that I’ve never visited, public transportation is the pits in the US. I have never taken public transportation in my hometown because it doens’t exist. In the capital of Vermont, there are buses, but they run on a very limited schedule and only have a few stops. In fact, I didn’t even realize they existed until about two years ago.

This is probably why, when I first came to Santiago in 2007, I was FASCINATED with the public transportation system here (it didn’t officially become Transantiago until one month after I arrived). It amazed me that I could go out my door, walk less than 1 block and hop on a bus that would take me where I wanted to go (or if not, to the metro station at least). When Transantiago was implemented in February, I became fascinated with the transantiagoinforma.cl website. I always got excited when I had to go to a new place because that meant I could look it up online and I would be able to take a micro I’d never taken before! (This paragraph makes me sound like a huge dork. Oh well. I guess I am!)

My host family used to ask me, the newly arrived gringa, how to get places in the city.

My friend J. and I developed a strange kind of affection for the 505 (back then it was the only micro that passed on Salvador, now we have the 508, 513 and 514!).

Although some of the “newness” of having a public transportation system wore off as I spent more time here, I still really do appreciate the convience of it. Luckily, where I live, the micros pass often and because it’s summer, they’re usually not too full.

That being said, there are some things that I absolutely HATE about riding a bus or the metro.

First of all, the metro is DISGUSTING during the summer. I feel as if I’m breathing other people’s air and it grosses me out. I actually try to avoid it as much as I can. I would much rather spend a little more time on a micro than not breathing on the metro.

Secondly, some micro drivers are horrendous. Today I had to stand for 50 minutes on the 421, all the way from San Carlos de Apoquindo to Salvador with Providencia. The driver was so crazy…he didn’t slow down at all before the stops and then SLAMMED on his brakes, sending me and anyone else who was standing flying all over the place.

Which brings me to another point. I don’t mind standing on the micros as long as it’s a short little trip up Salvador. But when I have to stand for almost an hour, no thank you. Today, whenever a seat would free up I sat down, only to have a little old lady get on. No one else around me would give up their seats! And I’m talking about strapping young men and women my age. So I got up for the poor old lady and assumed my position clutching the pole for dear life as the bus driver attempted to dislodge me with his driving skills.

When it comes down to it though, a $200 peso ice cream will make any ride on Transantiago more enjoyable.

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