Dangerous Public Buses in Quito
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 30, 2012 7:54 AM Last Post By: jgcp
Jul 28, 2012 5:46 PM
Dangerous Public Buses in QuitoBefore I began teaching a decade ago, I worked as a reporter, so I'm familiar with the inclination of the media to focus on exceptions and not the norm. For example, hospitals safely perform thousands of operations each year, but the big story is if one goes wrong. I believe it is the same situation with the reputation of Quito's public transportation system as being full of thieves waiting to slash the backpacks or pick the pockets of any tourists foolish enough to climb on board.
I have no doubt that some tourists have been victims of crime while utilizing Quito's bus system. We've all heard the tales, but I wonder how many thousands of guests have safely arrived at their destinations, including me.
Yesterday, I returned from a month of traveling throughout Ecuador. During my trip, I used Quito's Trolebus and Metrobus system seven times, going to and from Old Town to the Quitumbe bus terminal to travel south; going to and from Old Town to the Carcelen bus terminal to travel north; going to and from La Mitad del Mundo; and finally going to the airport. On all but two of those trips, I was carrying my backpack, my passport, and all of my other belongings, and most of the time the buses were crowded, which according to the naysayers, is the sure kiss of death.
However, I'm happy to say that I never had a problem. In fact, I found my fellow passengers and the drivers to be extremely friendly and helpful.
Granted, I had a couple of factors working on my behalf, including knowing Spanish and traveling with a small backpack, which enabled me to easily navigate my way through crowds and keep an eye on my belongings.
Before going to Ecuador, hearing some of the stories about robberies made me a little nervous, but years ago, I made a decision, based on a famous quote by Albert Einstein, who once said, "The most important decision we ever make is whether we believe in a friendly or a hostile universe." I believe in a friendly universe, and I believe that most people I'll meet traveling, including those on mass transit, are good.
Some of my fondest memories abroad and some of my most meaningful cultural encounters have been aboard buses. I'll never forget the time that I was racing down a highway in Jamaica discussing politics above a blaring radio in a minivan crammed full of 20 people, a van so full that an infant was riding on my lap. Last year, I remember being so moved when I dropped all of my money on a Colombian bus, and rather than anyone taking it, the passengers joined together to scoop it all up for me. Also, I'll never forget the time that I got lost on a Turkish bus, and a woman, who spoke no English, got off the bus with me and led me to my destination, which I believe was blocks out of her way.
Public transportation is a great way to meet locals and learn about another culture.
Each person must decide for himself what is safe and what is not, but before categorically labeling Quito's buses as dangerous, remember that those stories you've heard are a gross misrepresentation of the true reality you'll find.
Jul 28, 2012 8:38 PM
1I've never robbed on them either because I've been very careful and I've travelled on them probably hundreds of times in my six or so visits to Ecuador. In fact I've never been robbed in Ecuador at all.
Jul 28, 2012 8:44 PM
Jul 29, 2012 1:58 AM
3I don't think Quito is very different from many other large cities in the world. I do use public busses everywhere in the world. But you also need to always be careful.
Jul 29, 2012 4:16 AM
Jul 29, 2012 5:41 AM
5My first time in Ecuador was for a year. During that time the apartment was burgled by the security guard, my wife was tear gassed on the bus passing the local uni, I drove through falling masonry during an earthquake, every Monday on the way to work we encountered the chalk marks indicating body positions from the weekend murders and narrowly avoided a shootout one evening. It was a fabulous year!
Next visit was only a month when I survived several bus rides to Hell up and down the mountain tracks, had my eyes burned by acid "rain" when a volcano blew, managed to talk my way out of a gang situation and picked up a second dose of altitude sickness. That trip reinforced my love for the country.
I'd emigrate there if I could, it is perfectly safe!
Jul 30, 2012 7:54 AM
6Well seeing you seem to attract trouble wherever you are in Ecuador I hope I never have the misfortune to be anywhere near you if you ever return. Please stay in Spain but beware of Barcelona as it seems so many people who visit there seem to get pickpocketed or scammed judging by what I have read of Las Ramblas - seems there are many successful pickpockets and scam artists in that area.....
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