13/08/2018, updated 15/06/2023
Santiago has a dense public transportation network.
To use the public transportation network, you need to buy a "BIP" card first, at the counter in the subway. Then, you can charge the amount you want, from $100, in a subway station or in newsstands located in many parts of Santiago. The amount credited is not refundable. Once you validate your card, you can travel for 2h, up to the limit of two bus/subway changes. If you only take the subway, you can change as many times as you want. By contrast, if you exit the subway, you will be charged again if you go back in the subway.
Santiago's subway is a safe and fast way to cross the Chilean capital. It does not serve all the neighborhoods but the majority of Santiago's points of interest. The subway is expanding: after two lines opened in 2018, a new line should open in 2026 and other projects are planned.
The cost of the ticket varies, depending on the week of the day and the time:
- Peak hours: from Monday to Friday 7-9am and 6-8pm.
- Normal hours: from Monday to Friday 6.30-7am, 9am-6pm and 8-8.45pm, anytime on Saturday and Sunday (Saturday 6.30am-11.30pm; Sunday and public holidays 8am-11pm).
- Off-peak hours: from Monday to Friday 6-6.30am and 8.45-11pm.
One of the particularities of Santiago's subway is that, to regulate traffic flow during peak hours, some subway trains do not stop at every station, but every two stations. Lines 2, 4 and 5 have three types of stations: red ones, green ones and mixed ones. Some trains stop at the red stations, others at the green ones. Before getting on the subway, just look at the color indicator, a green or red neon above every door of the subway, to know if you are about to enter in the right one. Every subway, no matter its color, stops at the mixed stations. During off-peak hours, no color is on. This means that the subway serves all the stations. Once you are in the subway train, the metro map is displayed with the colors on it, for you to know at which stations your train will stop.
In Santiago, the bus is called the « micro ». The bus network serves all the neighborhoods but it is not the most reliable means of transport. Buses rarely arrive at the same time every day and may not stop at every station (even when they should), which are not always well indicated. Thus, it is hard to locate yourself when you take the bus, so be sure to be in advance if you choose this means of transport.
A bus ticket costs $660 at any time of the day and week. If you exit the subway and take the bus, your card will not be debited when you validate it.
Taxis / Colectivos
Beside public transport, you can move around using a taxi. Even though Santiago is a safe city, we advise you to use the app EasyTaxi to book a taxi. This allows you to have the contact details of the driver and make a claim if the plan shows an unnecessary detour after the race.
You can also use colectivos, taxis shared between four people, which are cheaper than a real taxi. The driver starts the ride once the four passengers are on board. In general, distances and prices are individual. Colectivos are mainly outside big metro stations and at Santiago's points of interests. You can identify them thanks to their color, all black, contrary to taxis which are black and yellow, and to the sign on the roof.
Uber is not legal in Chile because the platform employs drivers not having an A driving licence, which does not meet the Chilean legislation. Yet, Uber is very active in Santiago and you can definitely use this means of transport, safer and cheaper than taxi, except during high-demand events, during which Uber surcharge may lead to a higher price. If the Uber price looks higher than normal to you, we advise you to compare with another app, such as Cabify, a transportation network company which offers two services, one for businesses and one for individuals.
This is not public transport, but we would like to highlight the fact that Santiago has made a lot of efforts to build bike lanes during the Covid-19 pandemy, so that less people had to take public transport.
Here you can find a map of all bike lanes in Santiago:
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