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Quito is a varied city, and it maintains that variety in its offering of transportation. Several options exist, and thankfully they’re all incredibly inexpensive. As is the case in many cities, taxis are probably the quickest way to get around, especially if you aren’t quite sure where you’re headed or if you decide you don’t want to take your chance with the city’s mercurial weather (note that it usually rains in the afternoon, so mornings are your best bet for exploring outdoors). To hail a taxi simply stand at the edge of the sidewalk, and when you see a taxi raise your hand about waist high and wiggle your hand or 2 fingers. If they whizz past you or shake their head it’s because they have a passenger or en route. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long for the next one to arrive. Generally you can get around most of the city for under $3 USD.
The least crowded of the three bus options is the Ecovia. If you get a hold of the Quito tourism map, the Ecovia is the red line. Conveniently, it passes by many of the top tourism sites as well as a lot of the shopping areas. You’ll want to have an idea of how many stations you’ll be passing on your route since often the drivers do not announce the next station, and it can be hard to read the signs on the station until the doors are closing in your face as you realize it’s time to exit. Make sure you’re near the door when your destination is getting close. The buses don’t allow a lot of time for entering & exiting. Ecuadorians don’t have an issue about “personal space” so feel free to go local and scrunch right in there with them by the door.
The Trolebus, aka trolé, is often extremely crowded. I recommend walking a few extra blocks and taking the Ecovia if your route will allow for that at all. It really gets packed and fairly uncomfortable. On the map it is represented as the green line.
The second best option is the metro bus (blue line on the map). These drivers are better about announcing the next station. There also tend to be more seats available on these buses for some reason.
All of the bus options have the same fare: 25 cents for adults, 12 cents for children 12 and under. If you have a quarter, you can proceed straight to the turnstile. Otherwise, or if you’re paying for kids, stop at the booth to get change and/or a token, and then proceed through. You do not need transfers even if switching from the Ecovia to the bus.
On the buses women, the elderly, and small children have seating priority. If you’re standing, which is most likely, make sure you move away from the doors to help facilitate flow of traffic. As it can get quite cramped for space, make sure you’re paying extra attention to your belongings and pockets. It’s a great environment for pickpockets, although we had no issues whatsoever.
Quito’s transportation system is extremely easy to figure out, and at such an incredibly low price it’s worth it to use for getting around, or just for exploring. Just jump on the Ecovia, get off at a random stop and walk around. You just never know what you might discover.