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Collectivo's - Peru's Version of the Carpool

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, November 4, 2009

None of us our strangers when it comes to public transportation, there has been a moment in all of our lives where we have had to rely on others to get us from point A to point B.  Here in Lima, Peru just like in my hometown of Portland, Oregon the people of this city rely heavily on multiple forms of public transportation.  In Lima the most common forms of public transportation that one will encounter include: buses, Micros (small buses), Combi's (name was adopted from the original Volkswagon model), taxi's, mototaxi's (which is a motorcycle that has been converted to carry passengers), and Colectivos (which is a carpoolesque taxi).


This photo was taken from within a Colectivo while traveling along the Costa Verde

All of these forms of transportation have their respective levels of risk and reward along with their varying range of transportation fares.  The mode of transportation that I most frequently use are the Colectivo's. Why?  There are a number of reasons why I prefer Colectivos the best three being: cheap price in comparison to taxi's, fast travel, and less passenger stops. 

The Colectivo as I mentioned earlier can be best described as a public carpool service which is similar to that of a taxi.  All Colectivos have their respective routes that they travel much like the buses, Micros, and Combis which, are fairly flexible to work with when trying to reach a destination in the city.  The downside of the Colectivo is that there are'nt many routes avialable in Lima, with the most common ones I can think of being: Via Expresa/Chorrillos, La Parada (La Victoria), Chosica, Comas/San Felipe, and Callao (there may be others that I am not familiar).  From these routes one may also have to rely on a secondary form of public transportation to reach their actual destination, fortunately for me this is not the case since the Colectivo that I take drops me off within walking distance of my home. 

The most you will pay for a Colectivo I believe is 5-10 soles (again, not 100% sure on this figure) to travel to Callao and 4 soles to travel to San Felipe/Comas.  I currently pay S/. 3.00 to travel from Chorrillos to Plaza Grau near the Sheraton Hotel and El Palacio de Justicia in Downtown Lima.  Another benefit is that they can often be found in the early morning hours which makes it a nice alternative to taking a cab for some (again, depends on whether or not the route is in towards your neck of the woods). 

Another downside is the fact that you have to carpool with complete strangers and depending on the time of day at which you decide to travel in one you may find yourself seated next to beligerently drunk guy (who apparently has lost all motor control of his body and collapses in your lap halfway through the trip).  Sitting between LARGE individuals is no way to travel and gives literal meaning to the phrase human sandwich. 

Lastly public transportation and recklessness are two words in Peru that are seen as synonymous with one another, so it should go as no surprise that by riding in a Colectivo you are putting your life in just as much danger if not more than riding in a taxi or combi.  This has more to do with the fact that most Peruvians (YES I AM GENERALIZING, especially since recklessness and total disregard for public safety rules seem to be commonplace in Peru) seem to drive with a feeling of self entitlement (as if they owned the damn road) and could frankly give a damn about their fellow drivers, FORGET about pedestrians they don't even exist, who are they?  Life Insurance is a valuable thing here, ARE YOU IN GOOD HANDS? probably not. 

So if you ever find yourself with the task of deciding between taking that taxi to Callao or Chorrillos or the Colectivo, try mixing it up and saving a few soles by going with the Colectivo.  You might just discover a new found respect for a form of transportation you once denied. 

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A travel blog about living abroad in Lima, Peru and my travels to cities like Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Inti Aperture is a blog about travel, Peruvian food, culture, adventure, jobs, tourism, travel, news, teaching English, photography, and living abroad, making it a perfect resource for the traveling expat.
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