In a cab home from the opening day of Mistura I noticed that there were actually buses with people in them moving driving in the spot where the long awaited Metropolitano mass transit system was being built.
“Wait, is the Metropolitano finished?” I asked the driver.
It was indeed. There weren’t many people on it and there was still an assload of combis in the street, but it was in operation. The next morning on my way back to Mistura I went to the Metropolitano station at Javier Prado to see how long it might take me to get to Estacion Central in the center, bit far from the Parque de la Expocision where Mistura is being held. The stops are modern and easy to understand. I put S/.5 in the machine and a plastic card came out. I went to the turnstile, but there wasn’t anywhere to put the card. One of several people that work in the station to direct passengers showed me that I had to just hold the card up to a spot on the turnstile and the S/.1.50 charge was taken from the card. I walked downstairs to the empty loading rooms, a flat screen TV was showing the news. Within 2 minutes a bus came and I got on. I found an open seat and in about 4 minutes I arrived at my station. The day before it took me 30 minutes to move the same distance.
While this isn’t the answer to all of Lima’s traffic problems, it’s a start. I’d say regulating the taxis and just scrapping every single combi would be one of the next logical steps. If you can make mass transportation easy like this the people will follow and the demand will explode. What a beautiful place Lima would be if that element of pollution were taken away. I know Peruvians never want to accept that their neighbors have done something better, but just look at Santiago, Chile. They had the exact same problem and built a underground rail system and an improved above ground bus system and now it’s a site to see.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.