Okay, taxis are cheap. We all understand that it’s very tempting to open your UBER-app and book a car and be delivered at your point of destination. However, there is an alternative that is much cheaper, more cultural and possibly more fun: the bus. In this guide on public transport in Lima, we aim to help you in the traffic jungle of Lima’s bus system. Now follows why, when in Lima, you should definitely become a bus traveler.
There is a system in the Lima public transport… at least sort off
let’s start with a fun fact: although you might call it a “public” bus, almost all the busses in Lima are actually private. There actually is no such thing as a Lima public transport system. Because for the user it is the same and for the sake of reading, we will keep using the term though :p But in truth, private companies drive around in big busses and minivans (combi’s). They themselves decide on the routes, which are written on the side. Once a route is chosen, they are rather fixed though. And thus, it is possible to structure the mess of vehicles a bit by means of an application: Tu Ruta.
The app tells you which buses to take and where to take them, it’s amazing, super handy and actually very accurate. This is a must-download if you want to navigate in Public Transport Lima. As said before, the route is also written on the side. So, if you are in for more adventure, you can also just look at the neighborhoods/streets on the side of the bus.
Frequent and Efficient
Even though there is an app to help you with public transport in Lima, you will only use it to select your bus and paradero (bus stop). Busses will in general only allow you to enter at these official bus stops. You will not need to check the departure time, as this is variable, and busses leave all the time. Just stand at your bus stop and wait for 5 minutes. Getting off is more of an art: you can just get out whenever the bus is standing still, even when you are not at a stop. Accordingly, you can perfect your departure spot after a while.
TIP: Just scream “BAJO” when you want to depart. “Permiso” is the equivalent of “excuse me” (useful when you need to get past many people to depart).
PUBLIC TRANSPORT - BUS LANGUAGE
|Bajo||Low||Shout when you want to depart.|
|Sube||Go up||From the word ‘subir’, shouted by the bus driver to make people hurry up when entering.|
|Adelante||Forward||Used by the bus personnel to make people move to make more space in the front.|
|Permiso||Excuse me||Use when you have to pass people.|
It’s safer than you think
In my 4 months in Lima, I have not heard of anyone being robbed while on the bus. It might be because we were all warned beforehand though. Make sure you carry your bag on your front, especially during rush-hour. During this time of the day, you might want to avoid the public transport system anyways, because it really gets super crowded and it takes ages… The busses take the main roads, which have the most traffic.
At first, we were also a bit hesitant to take the bus in the evening, but also this is not a problem. After classes end at 22:20 at UP, you can still easily take the T-line (more about this bus later) to Miraflores. The bus even became our main way of transport to go to pre-drinks at night. I have not felt scared once, but remain cautious.
Lima public transport… is hellah cheap
And then I mean really cheap. Take the T-line, the bus that starts in Chorrillos and drives via Barranco and Miraflores to Jesus Maria and stops on 2 minutes walking distance of UP. Accordingly, most UP students that live in Miraflores take this bus. For 1,20 soles (that’s 0,40 dollar) you travel from Miraflores to School. If you are willing to negotiate, you can even get a discount if you show your school pas. Compared to an UBER you save yourself about 9 soles per one-way trip. That is one cappuccino at Coffee Road, worth it.
TIP: It’s nice to already have your money ready before entering the bus. Often there are two employees, the driver and someone who sells tickets. Especially in rush-hour you do not want to struggle to search for money.
Everyone uses public transport in Lima
The bus is the main way of transport in Lima if you do not want to travel by car. So, you find people from everywhere in society on Lima’s public transport bus. People in suits, old ladies (who get really angry if you do not stand up for them), students, etc. You do find the occasional exchange student, but hardly any tourists. So, if you are in for some culture, take the bus.
Free entertainment, good and bad
Sitting in a bus might seem uneventful… Not in Peru. You have a wide variety of activities on the bus, the public transport in Lima. You have the vendadores (sellers), that will give you a long-ass speech and then try to tempt you with all kind of sweet stuff. Some will start with a little quiz where you can win candy, I like that. Some don’t sell anything but just shout long stories about injustice before asking for money, I do not like that. AND at times you are lucky, and an artist will enter the bus. The music can actually be really enjoyable, my favorite is the guy with the pan flute. One thing is certain: while using public transport in Lima, you will not be bored.
They play music on the bus in Lima
If you, like me, have a playlist with Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, and Maluma, then you will love the bus. All your favorite artists are being played on high volume. This is unheard off in the Netherlands, where you have to rely on your own Spotify.
TIP 1: launch your Shazam App. After giving the name of the song, you have the option to open the lyrics. In that way, you can improve your Spanish while traveling and later you will impress your friends in club Bizarro by singing along with all the songs.
TIP 2: Now that you know the songs by hard, it is time to get into the lima nightlife. We wrote an itinerary with our favorite places 🙂 Check it out!
As you might have concluded from this article declaring my love for the Lima public transport system, I truly loved the bus. It was one of the most special experiences I got to have in Lima and it was one of those rare moments that I really felt part of the Lima Lifestyle, traveling as the locals do. It is cheap, I listened to some pretty good music and people tried to sell me cookies. What more can you wish for? I secretly miss the busses in Lima the very most.
Do you want to read more on living in Lima, we have a whole section dedicated to the peruvian Capital. Only on Lima for a few days and traveling further afterwards? Of course we wrote about that too 🙂
Lastly, any questions remaining, or you just want to say hello? Leave a comment or drop us a message! Love to hear from you.