Riding the Metropolitano in Lima

Lima Metropolitano bus stop
Jim McIntosh/Flickr/Public Domain

Traffic in Lima, Peru can be chaotic, with roads choked by beat-up buses, tricky little taxis, and everything in-between. Throw in a few million reckless drivers, and the problem soon starts to grow.

In an effort to reduce congestion and offer locals a more effective means of traveling across the capital, the government finally introduced a viable mass transit system. In 2006, work began on the Metropolitano, a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system of articulated buses running along special lanes.

Numerous delays, spiraling costs, and other controversies plagued the construction project, but the Metropolitano finally became commercially operational on July 28, 2010 -- albeit only partially.

Even now, the Metropolitano consists of only one major line, as it did in 2010. As it currently stands, the Metropolitano connects Lima Sur with Lima Norte (southern Lima and northern Lima), connecting 16 districts from Chorrillos in the south to Comas in the north.

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Lima Metropolitano Stations and Routes

The main line of the Lima Metropolitano
Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima

There are 38 stations along the route, including stations serving Barranco, ​Miraflores, San Isidro, La Victoria, Central Lima, and Breña. There’s also a handy Estadio Nacional (National Stadium) stop, which is right near the Parque de la Reserva and the Magic Water Circuit.

Smaller Rutas Alimentadoras (Feeder Routes) branch out at both ends of the main line, providing greater access to the Metropolitano via its two terminating stations: Estacion Naranjal in the north and Estacion Matellini in the south.

The mainline currently stretches for about 16 miles (26 km). The buses themselves run on natural gas, helping to keep harmful emissions low in Lima’s already polluted air. 

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How to Use the Metropolitano

Inside the España stop of the Lima Metropolitano
Tony Dunnell

Riding the Metropolitano is a fairly simple process, and far more comfortable and secure than a trip in one of the city’s many micros and combis (the cramped and battered minibusses that barge their way along the roads of the capital). You can also get from place to place quickly and with no risk of sitting in a traffic jam for an hour or so.

The first thing you’ll need is a Tarjeta Inteligente, an electronic card that functions as your (rechargeable) ticket. The standard card can be purchased at card vending machines in each station. You’ll also need to put some additional charge on the card to cover your rides on the Metropolitano.

Swipe your card at any station entrance to enter and wait for the bus. Buses normally come along every five to ten minutes. Unfortunately, you’ll sometimes find that the bus is full, in which case you’ll have to wait for the next one. This happens more frequently during rush hour.

All stations and buses have wheelchair access.

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Regular and Express Services

Lima Metropolitano bus
Thomas S./Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

There are a few different types of services running along the main line, divided into two categories: regular and express.

There are currently three regular services (A, B and C). Servicio Regular B runs the entire length of the line, stopping at every station apart from one side of the central line (which splits briefly in two). Regular A and C each run along one half of the major line only.

There are six express services stopping only at certain stations, offering passengers a quicker option for getting from place to place.

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