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Local transport

Local Transport


Large cities like Santo Domingo and Santiago have public bus systems that operate as they do in most places around the world. Many of the larger city buses are imported from Brazil, and are the kind which you board in the back and pay the person sitting beside the turnstile. Other city buses are more or less like guaguas, where you board quickly and pay the cobrador when he comes around. In general, you will probably take relatively few city buses, simply because públicos follow pretty much the same routes and pass more frequently.


These are banged-up cars, minivans or small pickup trucks that pick up passengers along set routes, usually main boulevards. Públicos (also called conchos or carros) don’t have signs but the drivers hold their hands out the window to solicit potential fares. They are also identifiable by the crush of people inside them – up to seven in a midsize car! To flag one down simply hold out your hand – the fare is around RD$12. If there is no one else in the car, be sure to tell the driver you want servicio público (public service) to avoid paying private taxi rates.


Cheaper and easier to find than taxis, motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) are the best, and sometimes only, way to get around in many towns. An average ride should set you back no more than RD$30. That being said, you might have to negotiate to get a fair price and we’ve heard of travelers unknowingly dropped off far short of their intended location. Accidents resulting in injuries and even deaths are not uncommon; ask the driver to slow down (¡Más despacio por favor!) if you think he’s driving dangerously. Avoid two passengers on a bike since not only is the price the same as taking separate bikes but the extra weight makes scooters harder to control. For longer trips, or if you have any sort of bag or luggage, motoconchos are usually impractical and certainly less comfortable than alternatives. By law, drivers are required to wear helmets though it's generally ignored, as are any tickets issued.


Dominican taxis rarely cruise for passengers – instead they wait at designated sitios (stops), which are located at hotels, bus terminals, tourist areas and main public parks. You can also phone a taxi service (or ask your hotel receptionist to call for you). Taxis do not have meters – agree on a price beforehand.


Santo Domingo has a good metro system that is continuing to expand.


Hitching is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk. That said, Dominicans, both men and women, do it all the time, especially in rural areas where fewer people have cars and guagua service is sparse. It’s also common in resort areas like Bávaro, where a large number of workers commute to Higüey or other towns nearby every morning and evening. It is, however, rare to see foreigners hitchhiking, and doing so (especially if you have bags) carries a greater risk than for locals.