Start-Up Chile Experience: Getting around Santiago

Community, Experience, Santiago living


Written by Alice Fu


Two weeks ago I made the move here down south, from New Zealand.  Having decided it’s still too early to settle down somewhere, and wanting to do something different, I decided to come where no one I know has been and learn Spanish, and work in the startup scene. I sent a few emails via AngelList and Startup Chile, and off I came with my suitcase, and that’s how the friendship began. Everyone has been more than welcoming here, and whilst I settle in, I will be helping out around here, and hopefully writing interesting and useful blogs for you to read.


For me the most important information when you just arrived at a new city is how to get around. If you are like me, don’t own a car or a bike, then taking the metro, bus or taxi is the way! Or you could always walk, get some exercise and save on some pesos!



Firstly, you will need a ‘bip!’ card. This is a rechargeable card to use in the metro and bus networks. At the metro station, with $1500 CLP you can be the proud owner of it. There is a minimum card balance of $1000, and additional top ups must be in multiples of $500.


There’s three different fare types ranging from low, normal to rush hour, the prices vary from $610-$720 CLP. From your first point of entry and within 120 minutes, you can hop on 2 more connection metro or bus transfers at little to no extra cost.


Plaza de Armas, on the green line, is the closest station to the Startup Chile Moneda Head office. For the CETOF work space, on Providencia, this is on the red line, located between Baquedano and Salvador metro stations.


If you are using the green line, or one of the three (Green, Yellow and Blue) out of the six metro lines, then you need to know about the express service during peak hours. Some trains only stop at certain stations. So if you were like me, standing by the platform wondering why that metro didn’t stop, now you know! At the front and side of the metro, you can see colored lights or signage, indicating the service type – green or red. For example on the Green line (Line 5), if you want to go from Plaza de Armas to Parque Bustamante. At station Plaza de Armas, both red and green services stop, but at Parque Bustamante only red services stop, which means if you got on a green service, you will miss your stop! Or on the reverse, if you want to get on from Parque Bustamante, there will be less frequent trains as none of the green services will stop here. These diagrams are usually above the inside of the metro doors, so you can always check, that’s if you manage to see at peak hours…




If you’ve never been in the metro during peak hours, then this is probably something you need to experience. Nobody queues here, you basically find a space or push until you make a space, and hope the door doesn’t close with you jammed in it. Once you are in, you can’t really turn or move an inch, as there will be other people’s body parts in any direction. I am sure you can imagine how hot and unpleasant it gets! If you want to get anywhere in the metro at peak hours, being polite won’t get you anywhere!


An interesting aside, there is no Linea 3 in the metro system. Have you noticed that and wondered why? Apparently it was planned after Linea 1 and 2 logically, but due to the 1985 earthquake and population movement around town, Linea 3 has been deferred, estimated to be completed in 2017! So not due to some superstition unbeknownst to all!


On a last note, the metro usually closes around 1130pm, so make sure you don’t miss it and mind your belongings! More next time on buses and taxis!