Survival guides in Spanish: public transport

In our previous Survival Guide: at the doctor’s office we learned how to manage when in a health care setting in Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia. We learned the basics of the health care systems and some sentences that you may need to interchange with the doctor.

Today we’re learning something different but important too! Whenever in Quito, Sucre o Cusco, you’ll surely have to deal with public transport and you’ll need to take different means of transport during your stay. To make the task easier for you, we have prepared this survival guide with some of the basic features of the public transport in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and some basic terms and expressions for you to be a professional talking about public transport in Spanish-speaking countries!

Transportation in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia


In Ecuador, there is an extensive bus service in larger cities. Buses are quite cheap and intercity buses are available to all major areas in the country. In Quito, it’s possible to find “trolebús” (buses that run on separate tracks), the most modern and efficient public transport system in the country. Trolebús costs USD 0,25 and starts working from 6 am until midnight.

In Peru, the bus is the most commonly used means of transport among locals and visitors. Tickets are cheap and there is an extensive service for long-distance routes, though the quality of the vehicles varies.

In Bolivia, traveling by bus is also the most popular form of transportation. There are local buses called Micros and Trufis and for long distances public buses and Bolivia Hop.


Generally speaking, the taxis service in Ecuador is good, taxis are modern and taxi drivers are willing to help tourists. Tourists are recommended to use registered taxis for safety reasons. Registered taxis are yellow and have the cab number on the windshield and side doors in an orange plate. Another recommendation is to take taxis using the radio taxi service, or go into a restaurant or hotel and have them call a taxi for you.

Registered taxis in Peru are also recommended and have the company’s phone number on the car’s roof.

In Bolivia, tourists are also recommended to take Radio Taxis and ask in advance to locals about the usual fare. In some of the bigger cities, it’s possible to find Uber or EasyTaxi.

Spanish survival guide: public transport


In Ecuador, this means of transport is not so much used by locals but by tourists. It was known as the world’s most dangerous railway since it crosses the Andes mountains, giving the travelers spectacular views.


Especially in the Amazon rainforest areas, there are places only accessible by boat.

Survival guides: public transport


Around 12 cities in Ecuador have their own airports and flights from several airlines. Some Ecuadorian airlines are TAME, Avianca Ecuador or LAN Ecuador. In Peru, almost every national airline has offices in Lima. There are also smaller companies and charter flights. To get to distanced areas it may be necessary to make a stopover. Some Peruvian airlines are LAN, LC Peru, Peruvian Airlines and Star Perú.
In Bolivia, all major cities have their own airport and though is the most expensive option, it may be the most comfortable and safest when going to places such as the jungle. Some Bolivian airlines are Boliviana de Aviación, Línea Aérea Amaszonas, and EcoJet.

Cable car

Very popular in La Paz (Bolivia) with currently 4 lines of cable cars. They have discounts for students, seniors, and disabled people. It offers great views of the city and is a very efficient means of transport.

When purchasing a ticket

When buying a ticket, especially a plane ticket, keep in mind that there are three types of tickets (one way, return, and one way + return).

– Good morning, how can I help you? – Buenos días, ¿qué desea?

– I would like a one-way ticket to… – Quiero un boleto/billete/pasaje de ida a…

– I would like a return ticket for… – Quiero un boleto/billete/pasaje de vuelta a…

– I’d like a round-trip ticket for… – Quiero un boleto/billete/pasaje de ida y vuelta a…

Asking about timetables

– Excuse me sir/madam. At what time this bus/plane/train leaves? – Disculpe señor/señora. ¿A qué hora parte/sale este autobús/avión/tren?

– Excuse me sir/madam. At what time this bus/plane/train arrives? – Disculpe señor/señora. ¿A qué hora llega este autobús/avión/tren?

When calling a taxi

– Good morning sir/madam. How can I help you? – Buenos días señor/señora, ¿cómo puedo ayudarle?

– Good morning, I’d like to call a cab – Buenos días, me gustaría pedir un taxi

– Well, could you tell me the address? – Bien, ¿a qué dirección?

– At ….street, number …city ….. – En la calle …., número …., en la ciudad de…

– At what time would you like the taxi to pick you up? – ¿A qué hora ha de pasar a buscarle?

– At …8 o’clock – A las 8 en punto

– Thank you sir/madam. The taxi will come to pick you up in that address at that time.
Gracias señor/señora. El taxi pasará a buscarle a la dirección y hora que me ha indicado

Ticket changes

– Good morning, I’d like to change my ticket – Buenos días, me gustaría cambiar mi boleto/pasaje/billete

– Good morning sir/madam. Would you like to change the dates or a money refund? – Buenos días señor/señora. ¿Desea cambiar las fechas de su boleto o una devolución del dinero?

– I’d like to change dates – Me gustaría cambiar las fechas

– Well, to when would you like to change it? – Bien, ¿para cuándo le gustaría cambiarlo?

Take a look at our Survival Guide: at the airport, to know specific useful expressions to use when at the airport!

Hope you’ve learned a lot with us today, see you soon!

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