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  • Writer's pictureSheri McGuinn

Traffic and Taxis in Lima, Peru

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Lima, Peru


This is just one side of Lima. The city is huge, and the haze is the pollution from all the traffic, combined with an inversion system like that in Los Angeles. I actually brightened up this photo a bit so at least the near buildings would show better.


Aside from our long weekends being tourists outside the city, my group spent five weeks in Lima living with families and being students. Most of the time I walked three or more miles a day and I used the buses a lot, once I figured them out. Pedestrians do not have the right of way, at least not in practice, and buses let people off in the middle of the street if they’re stopped at a red light. It was definitely important to be alert.

The ISA driver told me normal rules do apply, but are widely ignored—so people frequently make lefts from the right lane and rights from the left. Until I got used to that, I usually crossed the street mid-block where I didn’t have to worry about turning cars.

Taxis: Taxis come in all shapes, colors, and age.

They say it’s safer to get a radio taxi, but they’re more expensive and don’t always show up, so standard practice is to flag down a street taxi. Others stop behind the first, so you can take time to bargain. One pair of students in our group had an extremely bad experience the first week—the driver pulled into an alley way and locked them in the cab and demanded their money. The ride cost them fifty American dollars.

Aside from that, the main complaint was crazy drivers.

How to have a safer ride:

There are no guarantees. While I lean towards newer taxis with neatly dressed drivers, the driver who robbed the American couple was in a dress shirt. However, usually these steps will increase your “luck” in rides:

1. Watch how they’re driving before you flag them down!

2. Know how to handle the money:

  • Know how much it should cost to get where you’re going.

  • Set the price before you get into the cab.

  • Have exact change ready in your hand and don’t pull out the rest..

3. If you HAVE to take a taxi late at night, do so in a large group, especially if you’re leaving a club or other place where the driver will assume you’ve been drinking and are therefore more vulnerable. The robbed couple were leaving a club late at night.

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