“Mentiroso! Tramposo! Llamaré a la policía!”
Everyone on the purple bus headed toward the district of Miraflores in Lima pretended not to hear the grievance happening between a thoroughly distraught woman passenger and the cobrador (fare collector).
This interaction began shortly after just situating myself in a window seat for the half hour bus ride to my internship. As the bus groaned its way through the gears, dodging taxis, motorcycles and the like in heavy Lima traffic, the ruckus between the two continued to fill the quiet spaces of the bus atmosphere.
To my understanding, the woman had paid the cobrador with a five soles coin but was shortchanged one sol after purchasing her pasaje (ticket).
One sol is equivalent to $0.30. What can $0.30 buy you in the United States? The answer is not much.
But here, that one sol can pay for the majority of a one-way ticket. One sol also pays for five pancitos (mini loaves of bread) that can feed a family breakfast.
In a country where the minimum wage per month is S/.850 (about US$251 as of September 2016), every sol counts.
What most of us in the United States would brush off as our daily dose of bad luck was being threatened to be brought to the police amidst a bus full of strangers.
Needless to say, every day riding public transportation in Lima is a new adventure, but a positive one at that.
In fact, there are many ways of getting around in Lima aside from a typical taxi, walking or biking. (Fun fact: In Lima, taxis don’t have meters. You bargain for the price with the driver before entering the vehicle.)
Public transportation options in Lima include buses, coasters (minibuses), combis (vans) and ride sharing services among others. All are much more inexpensive than their private counterparts; however, at the same time, the rider compromises personal space and time flexibility among other disadvantages.
But no matter what mode you choose, taking public transportation in either country has its many advantages, which is why I left half of the title empty.
Choose what you’d like to fill in the blank; the options for benefits are many.
But here’s a list of some of them.
- Public transportation is safer.
In a country where 40 percent of vehicles suffer accidents, many residents, including myself, consider public transportation a safer necessity for getting around in Lima. In the United States, public transportation reduces the number of accidents, injuries and deaths by 200,000, and the National Safety Council even stated that riding the bus is 170 times safer than traveling by automobile.
- Public transportation is healthier for the environment.
Aside from decongesting street traffic, taking public transportation also reduces the amount of air pollutants per passenger mile. Buses emit 20 percent as much carbon monoxide per passenger mile as a single-passenger automobile. A comprehensive list of air pollutants from motor vehicles can be read about here.
- Public transportation saves money.
According to the American Public Transportation Association’s January Transit Savings Report, the annual savings for switching from private to public transportation is $9,162. For those whose cities have the means of carrying them to their desired destination, it’s worth the consideration. Visit publictransportation.org to calculate your own personal savings.
- Public transportation offers more opportunities.
Anyone can use public transportation regardless of driving abilities, mobility, etc. It is especially useful for elderly citizens who may not have other means of getting around. Moreover, public transportation provides countless jobs for a variety of individuals in every walk of life.
- Public transportation includes ride sharing!
According to Rideshare, the United States could save 33 million gallons of gasoline each day if the average commute passenger load were increased by one person. With apps such as Uber and Lyft, it’s easier now than ever to find and share rides. Many cities even reward carpooling and ride sharing with high occupancy vehicle lanes to make for a quicker and easier journey. For more carpool and ride sharing apps, check out this list.
Take some of these benefits into mind to become a more environmentally friendly person tomorrow.