Santiago Bus Race

Written by Jesse

Topics: Chile

While on my way back to the USA a few months ago, I flew out of Santiago, Chile. I have before and continue to equate the Chileans as the Germans of South America with their penchant for rules and efficiencies. But there are always exceptions and extremes. On the way to the airport, from the bus station that severs the long haul buses, I got to experience both.

I was at what I thought was the right bus stop and saw the bus marked airport. The driver waved me forward to another stop; looking, I saw the stop ahead about 100 yards and carrying my pack I knew it was too far. Since the driver was stopped at a light, I pounded on the door. He did not open it and when the light changed, the driver went on to the stop. I ran after the bus but it pulled away from the stop – the buses run on a schedule and I guess I was taking too long. Seeing this, a city bus driver waved me onto his bus. I said ´airport?´ and he waved me to stand in front of the yellow line so not to register as a rider. Then ensured the approximately 5 kilometer bus race through the streets of Santiago as the bus I was on – about the size of a school bus – chased down the one I needed to be on of the same size. Weaving through traffic and making stops!!! along the way, we eventually caught up. Coming up to a light, my bus driver pulled in front of the other. At the red light, I got out and went back to the bus I needed and knocked on the door. That driver waved forward to a stop more than 100 meters passed the light. I shook my head no as I watched the light change. All other traffic started to move forward, but not the bus I needed; the other driver was not moving. Pounding on the door once more, the airport bus driver finally allowed me on and all continued on their way. I am not sure I will ever forget standing in the front of a bus as it wound it´s way through Santiago traffic: dodging cars and pedestrians and frigging making assigned stops all the while.

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