Lima’s New Metro System

Among Latin America’s capital cities, public transportation (or the lack thereof) is by far the worst. The first public transportation system in at least thirty years are up and running now, and change is in the air.

The long-awaited Lima Metro system is now a reality. Known to locals as the “Tren Eléctrico,” it will first connects central Lima to the southern part of the city. Line 1 consists of 16 stations and 22km of mostly elevated rail that, two weeks after opening, carries 140,000 passengers each day. There are plans for 11 more stations and, eventually, four additional lines planned that will supposedly run throughout the city by 2025. While Line 1 is elevated, planners suggest Lines 2-5 will be underground. Construction began President Alan Garcia’s first administration in 1987, but was suspended due to chronic corruption, mismanagement and an enormous $100m budget shortfall.

In addition to rail, Lima also opened a Bus Rapid Transit Construction (BRT) system in 2010 known as the Metropolitano. Inspired by Bogotá’s successful Transmilenio system, it used by 370,000 commuters daily. There are plans to open a east-west line known as Metropolitan II next year.

Both developments are most welcome to Lima, no doubt, but remain limited in scope. The question is what comes next. Because the Metro and Metropolitano are overseen by two different authorities, plans for expansion compete and overlap. What is needed is a single authority that will decide whether the priority should be further BRT lines, or if Lima should build an underground subway system in the spirit of Buenos Aires or Mexico City.