The Ecovía is one of the three major bus lines that run down the length of Quito. It's the one that is closest to my house, and is quite close to the IES Center and PUCE (the university where we can take classes). For me and many others in the program, the Ecovía is super convenient, and at 25 cents a ride, quite cost-effective.
Note: The Oonagh for scale is a lie. The Ecovía is a bit larger in comparison to me - maybe it would be more accurate if I was 6', instead of just 5'8. Ha ha haaa...
The Ecovía is an accordian bus, and the center rotates a bit as it turns. It's fairly interesting to stand in the center of the bus - it's kind of like a very boring amusement park ride.
In the mornings, the Ecovía can be incredibly crowded. However, since I'm from New York, I'm no stranger to incredibly crowded trains/buses. However, there is an unspoken code for manuevering the Subway in New York. You let people off before you get on, and because of that, you will always be able to get off at your stop without fail. In Quito, that code does not stand. You have to shove and elbow to get off at your stop, and getting on the bus doesn't go on a first come, first serve basis. So that can be incredibly frustrating.
In addition, many of the buses run on diesel, and spit out these horrible, choking fumes. If you touch the outside of the bus, your hand will be covered in a black grime (which is super hard to wash off).
One big pro is that the average Ecuadorian is short of stature (I'm in between the average male and female Ecuadorian height at under 5'4), so I can reach the overhead bars on the bus!
The buses have their own lanes in the center of the street that can only be used by buses and other governmen vehicles. All of the bus stations are also in the middle of the street. Getting to and from the bus stations is quite dangerous, as pedestrains have traditionally not had the right of way in Ecuador. Cars do not slow down if they see someone crossing the street, so crossing the street is like the greatest game of cat-and-mouse ever.
One major con of the Ecovía, as well as any other public transportation system, is unwanted touching. This is especially a concern for women, especially for people who are obviously not Ecuadorian. Unlike some other South American countries, such as Colombia or Argentina, Ecuador is not incredibly racially diverse, as many people are of indigenous ancestry. While I may be able to pass as Argentinean, I would never be able to pass as Ecuadorian. In my research on Ecuador, I'd never heard anything about sexual assault/harrasment on buses. This is something all travelers, especially those who will be staying in Ecuador for an extended period of time, should be aware of, espceially women who are obviously foreign.
In addition, mugging is very common on the bus. If there's anything in your pockets at the start of the ride, there's a good chance it won't be in there when you get off. Slicing bags is apparently one way of stealing from passengers. However, as long as you're aware, hold your bag in front of you, and cover the openings, you will be fine.
All in all, the bus is very convenient and cheap. Although there are a lot of drawbacks, they are all concerns that come with any public transport system. And as long as you don't stand right by the door, you might actually have a pleasant ride.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I'm Oonagh (ooh-nah), a junior at Grinnell College, and a Political Science major who fancies herself an occasional artist and a lifelong doodler. I'm very excited and mildly terrified to start my stay in Quito, but I'm very much looking forward to immersing myself in the language and culture.</p>