24 July 2013

The Basics of Public Transportation in Medellin, Colombia

Posted in Blog

In a previous post, we told you how to best get around in Bogota. In this post, we're going to continue talking about transportation by taking a look at modes of public transportation in the second largest city in Colombia: Medellin.

With approximately 2.7 million inhabitants living in both mountain and valley zones, Medellin has been very innovative in the modes of public transportation the city offers to its citizens. The main modes of transportation in Medellin are the Metro, MetroCable, MetroPlus, and public bus system, all of which we're going to talk about in this post.

transportation in Colombia

Metro Medellin, Colombia

Perhaps the most innovative mode of public transportation is the Metro and MetroCable--the only metro system in all of Colombia. Medellin's Metro runs North to South and Centre to West across the city. It's composed of two lines (A & B) that, together, host 27 stations, including ones that will leave you at key touristic sites in the city such as the Plaza de Botero and the Botanical Gardens. To use the Metro, you'll need to buy UniViajes (single passes good for a one way trip). These can be purchased at any Metro station, and are the easiest way for a tourist to use the system. If you're going to make several trips on the Metro, you can buy multiple UniViajes at a time to use later.

As for the MetroCable, it was originally constructed to provide public transportation to the communities found on the elevated and steep mountainsides of the city that proved inaccessible to the Metro. The MetroCable is composed of 3 lines (J, K, and L), and its cost is included in your initial UniViaje, unless you continue on the CableArvi (line L). You can take the MetroCable to visit places such as the newly constructed Biblioteca España (Spanish Library) or simply to get an incredible view of the city. If you're heading to Parque Arvi, you'll need take line K of the MetroCable and then transfer to line L, also known as CableArvi. To make this transfer, you'll need to buy a separate ticket for CableArví (line L) that costs 4.200 pesos (~£2). Regardless of why you choose to take the MetroCable, you'll be impressed by the panoramic view of the city it will give you.

 transportation in Colombia

MetroCable Medellin, Colombia

For more information about the Metro system or the MetroCable in Medellin, as well as printable maps, check out the official website in English.

In addition, there is a bus rapid transit system (BRT) called MetroPlus also connected to the Metro and MetroCable transportation systems. MetroPlus is very similar to the TransMilenio of Bogota, but on a smaller scale. New to Medellin (inaugurated in December 2011), the MetroPlús system has two lines of transport, each with at least one stop connected to a line of the Metro, where you can transfer to the Metro or MetroCable lines. These buses have fixed stops and will not respond to pedestrians waving them down. You'll also need to purchase a ticket for these buses—these can be purchased at any MetroPlus station.

transportation in Colombia

MetroPlus Medellin, Colombia

Like all other major cities around the globe, Medellin also has an extensive network of public buses. These buses are owned by private companies and each bus, like those in Bogota, has a specific route in the city that can be identified by a square-like poster in the front window. These buses charge between 1.600 and 2.150 Colombian pesos, depending on the bus type—microbus, buseta, or integrated buses. Most fees must be paid in cash, preferably in coins or with small bills—some integrated buses work with Metro cards. Regardless, the buses will always have the current fee posted, so don't worry about trying to figure out how much to pay! While you will see these buses all over the city, as in Bogotá, it can be a bit hectic to take one, as you will probably be unfamiliar with its route. If you're destination is listed on the poster posted at the front of the bus, you'll probably be fine, but make sure you ask someone to tell you when to get off if you're unsure. If you feel you're too unfamiliar with the city to take chances, use the Metro/MetroCable/MetroPlús system or hail a taxi.

With taxis in Medellin, as in Bogota, you'll want to try and use radio taxis—taxis registered to a company who will send them to your location. With these taxis, you'll be given a special code to give to your driver to verify that he/she is indeed from the company you've called. You can also hail taxis on the street, but for safety's sake, when you can, use a radio taxi. Most restaurants, hotels, museums, etc... will call a taxi for you so don't hesitate to ask!

For more information about buses, check out the official website and also have a look at where you can see public bus routes throughout the city.

And for taxi information, go here.

The Uncover Colombia Team

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