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Getting Around Quito

Getting Around Quito by Bus

The blue buses of Quito crisscross the city in every conceivable direction and, like other forms of public transportation, cost $0.25 cents (non-transferable). Easiest to navigate are the Trolebus, Ecovia and Metrobus, each of which run from north to south (and vice versa) across Quito on a dedicated pair of lanes that are sandwiched between the major avenues: 10 de Agosto, 6 de Diciembre, and La Prensa. Each trip costs $0.25 like the blue buses, regardless of the length of the journey. These three tend to be much more crowded than the blue buses due to their popularity.

  • Blue Bus

To figure out where a particular blue bus is headed, you’ll have to quickly read the long, multi-colored destination list that’s posted on the front window (as the bus is barreling toward you). If the bus is the one you want, simply wave it down and jump aboard. If you’re not able to read the sign in time, or catch the tout’s (the driver’s partner who shouts out destinations and collects money) attention, don’t worry - another bus will come along shortly.

Some buses have cashiers (behind a wooden desk to the left of the door) or touts who will take your 25 cents as you get on. Should you need a little more time to gather your payment, all operators will accept the fare as you leave or come to collect them during the trip. Make sure you have small change when you take the bus. Most operators are unable or unwilling to give change for currency larger than $5.

To get off the bus, stand up, walk to the front and indicate to the tout that you want to disembark. The bus should pause long enough for you to step off quickly to the curb.

Bus routes are so numerous and so varied that not all of them can be detailed here. but it's safe to say: if there's a part of the city you’d like to get to, then there's probably a bus that will take you there. Ask a local (most quiteños are very helpful) what bus you need to take to get to where you want to go. Intercity buses typically stop operating shortly after 8.

The Trole system runs down 6 de Agosto from the southern Terminal Quitumbe station to the northern Estación La “Y” (Tel: 593-2-243-4975). Along its trajectory, and worth noting, are three stops: Colón (outskirts of La Mariscal neighborhood), Plaza del Teatro and Plaza Santo Domingo (in the Old Town).

Troles have dedicated lanes and green, glass booths as their stops. Like the Metrobus and Ecovia, the ride to any point along the Trole route costs $0.25 cents in exact change. If need be, you can get change for small bills or coins at the attendant’s kiosk at any stop. Troles are handicap accessible, but the doors usually open and close quickly, so be prepared. Also, watch your valuables carefully, particularly if the popular Trole buses are jammed with people. If any one Trole seems too full, just wait for the next one.

Serving the city everyday is the Trole that runs from the northern terminal La "Y" to the southern station El Recreo. The schedule for getting from these two places, and vice-versa is:

Monday-Friday: 5 a.m.-Midnight (every 8-15 minutes)
Weekends & Holidays: 6 a.m -10 p.m. (every 10-15 minutes)

Note: After midnight on any day of week, the buses still continue to run once every thirty minutes; however, they do so with limited service, stopping only at every other (second or third) stop along the line. Starting at two, they run once every hour. On weekends the same applies after 10 p.m, but only running once every hour.

To see a street map of each station, click here.

For a more detailed look at times and farther destinations, click here.

At three of the following main stations, the Trole splits off into a number of supplemental bus routes.

  1. At Marán Valverde you can continue on along Camal Metropolitano, Cdla. Ejército, Guamaní and San Martin de Porras.
  2. El Recreo serves Solanda, Chillogallo, Lucha de los Pobres, Oriente Quiteño (ending at Vilcabamba) and Ferroviaria.
  3. La "Y" connects to Cotocollao, Rumiñahui, Carapungo, Kennedy, Comité del Publo (ending in Jiménez) and Los Laureles (to Rio Coca and Eloy Alfaro).

If need be, many Trole stations have route maps posted to help you find your destination. If you're still unsure, ask at one of the main stations for directions and a "mapa de rutas y paradas del Trole" (map of Trole routes and stops).

The Ecovías are a series of very popular, articulated buses that operate along Av. 6 de Diciembre. The Ecovía is one part of Quito’s North-South public transportation triumvirate, and runs between Rio Coca to the north, and La Marin to the south.

Like the Trolebús and Metrobus, the Ecovías have dedicated lanes, covered stops and always cost 25 cents (no matter your destination). Conductors usually call out the next point along the line, but each Ecovía parada (or stop) is also indicated by a large, brown marker and pictographic signs. To use the Ecovía, walk into any of the stops along 6 de Deciembre. Each stop is a glass, rectangular booth. You will need to insert correct change into a machine to pass through the turnstile. If you don’t have 25 cents, the booth attendants can convert coins and small bills for you. (Just don’t ask them to change anything larger than $5.) Ecovias pass by very regularly during their operating hours of 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekends and holidays. Outside of those hours (midnight-dawn), the Ecovía runs hourly Monday-Friday, and half-hourly Friday-Saturday.

Be sure to get on quickly, as the doors don’t stay open for long. If you are confronted with an Ecovía that appears extremely full (which happens often), wait for the next one. Once you're on, make sure you grab one or two of the many handholds, since Ecovías stop abruptly. Food and uncovered drinks are not allowed on the Ecovias. Keep an eye and hand on your valuables at all times; if you're using a backpack or large bag, shift it to your front when you get on. Pickpockets have been known to target Ecovía passengers, particularly on crowded buses.

Of all three lines (Trole and Ecovia being the other two), Quito’s Metrobus line is the one that reaches farthest north. Barreling down America & La Prensa, the metrobus makes several stops within walking distance of several areas such as: Mañosca St., La Gasca, Iñaquito Alto, Urb. Granda Centeno, Quito Tennis, El Bosque, Pinar Bajo, Pinar Alto, and La Concepción. Terminus station to the south is Estacion Varela, and to the north is Estacion La Ofelia. The cost is $0.25.

In addition to taking you farther north, the Metrobus is actually your first step in getting from Quito all the way to Mitad del Mundo via public transit. Transfer at the final stop up north in EstaciĂłn La Ofelia, making sure to check (by asking) which buses are leaving to Mitad del Mundo from there.

The Trole, Ecovia and Metrobus offices are located at Av. Vicente Maldonado y Miguel CarriĂłn sector El Recreo in Quito. To reach the main line,
call: 593-2-266-5023; fax: 593-2 266-5019; email:; or visit

Getting Around Quito by Taxi

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive, safe and convenient way to travel, tapping into Quito's extensive taxi network is a good way to get around the city.

During the day, taxi drivers are required to use a taximetro (or meter) when they drive you around. When you climb in, the initial rate should be 35 cents. Always ask for the taximetro, which is typically located just in front of the emergency brake, between the driver and front passenger seats. You should always be able to easily see the meter and should check the amount as you arrive at your destination (before the taxista turns it off).

Some drivers have been known to tell passengers that their meter is broken or that they don't have one, particularly around large hubs such as Terminal Terrestre. Taxis are plentiful enough that, if your driver won't use his meter (or has a meter that seems to be going extraordinarily fast), tell him to stop, get out and hail a more honest cabbie.

Most daytime trips around the city cost between $1.50 and $3. Given the distance, trips to the airport cost a lot more. The price of taxis to the airport are calculated by a fixed price chart (not a taximetro) which is based on the neighborhood you are departing to/from. For the most part, a trip to the airport will cost around $25-30 from most places in Quito (and vice versa). To consult the chart of fixed taxi rates, divided by neighborhood, click here.

At night, within the city itself, rates increase by $1 (since few other public transportation services are available) and taxi drivers do not use their meters. Make sure to negotiate a price before you get into a cab. If the price is too steep, ask for a more reasonable rate or hail a different taxi. Drivers charge per ride, not per person. Make sure when you're taking a taxi that you have roughly the correct fare in small change. Most cab drivers won't have much money on hand and will not be able to handle large bills. Tips are also accepted but usually not expected

Getting Around Quito by Car

Renting a car can be a good way to get out of Quito and explore the surrounding, spectacular countryside. Whether it be for a short trip or a longer vacation, car rental is a good option for those who are prepared to brave the interesting traffic “rules” that Ecuador has. When renting a car, be sure to consider that in some cases, roads may not be in top condition, and a vehicle with 4-wheel drive might be the best option.

In order to rent a car, you must be at least 25 years of age. Drivers must hold a valid driver's license and own an international credit card. As a general rule, those renting cars can expect to pay anything from $50 to $120 per day.

Avis (tel. 02/2440-270;, Budget (tel. 02/3300-979;, Hertz (tel. 1800/227-767 toll-free within Ecuador, or 02/2254-257; are the main car rental agencies, with offices at both Quito and Guayaquil airports.

Getting Around Quito by Bicycle

BiciQ is Quito's new public bicycle system, which aims to promote everyday cycling for both Quito residents and visitors to the city. Twenty five bicycle stations are located around the city, with a total of 425 bikes for use, allowing for easy mobility throughout Quito. In order to have access to the public bikes, you need to subscribe to the service, which costs $25 for the year; visitors can arrange monthly payments instead. Once registered—either online, at one of the BiciQ stations, or at the BiciQ administrative office—you will receive a BiciQ card that you will need to present at each station in order to borrow a bike.

BiciQ users have 45 minutes of free use between stations to return their bike, at which point they can trade it for another. Other rules do apply, including the city confines in which the bike can be used. You must be at least 18 years old to sign up; those who are 17 or 16 years old can register if a parent signs for them. BiciQ operates daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The main administrative office is located on Calle Venezuela, between Chile and Espejo streets in the Centro HistĂłrico (Tel: 02-395-2300, E-mail: , URL:

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Quito: Pico y Placa, Moving House, Buses From The Carcelén Terminal In Quito, Buses From The Quitumbe Terminal and Buses From The Mariscal.

19 Apr 2013

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