I had the opportunity to spend 4 days in Lima and 2 days in Quito, but only briefly had my PT/urbanista hat on.

From Wikipedia: “with a population of almost 10 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru and the second-largest city in the Americas (as defined by “city proper”), behind São Paulo and before Mexico City.” By comparison, Quito is slightly under 5 million – more the size of Toronto or Sydney. Ecuador appears to be a much more orderly country with better infrastructure, reflecting its history of stable democratic governments.

Peru has had long-running problems with corruption and the fabled insurrection of the Maoist “Shining Path” guerrillas in the central valleys, leading it to have a cash economy and a tax-avoiding, independent population exemplified by its taxi drivers, roadside vendors and numerous markets. The towns we saw were charming but pretty shabby, as were parts of Lima, with favelas climbing up the hillsides north of the city centre. However, Miraflores, the Lima oceanside suburb where we stayed, was a lovely, prosperous, sophisticated sub-tropical place, with lots of street life, boulevard cafés and smart shops.


The Metropolitano rapid bus in Lima (Wikipedia photo)

Lima’s traffic is horrendous, reflecting its lack of serious infrastructure spending. Although there is a one-line Metro (which we never saw) and the Metropolitano rapid bus that uses the separated centre lanes of the expressway running from the coastal suburbs into the Centro Historico, the vast majority of transit is small “collectivo” buses that run (illegally) like jitneys, as well as hordes of taxis, some of them legal and registered (taxis convienza), some of them not. It is free enterprise on steroids rather than a public-funded system like Translink.


Collectivos at a stop in Miraflores

The majority of the traffic appears not to be private cars but rather “shared” vehicles – the collectivos and taxis – plus service vehicles such as trucks, and it approaches gridlock for many hours of the day. Is this how the future will play out in other cities, as “share” services such as Uber et al clog the streets with constantly moving vehicles, some of them empty – maybe some of them driverless?


Public wifi in the Parque Kennedy in Miraflores


And yes, Virginia, there is a bike lane. It’s amazing how few people cycle given the pleasant climate and relatively flat topography.


Condo marketing is only slightly more audacious than Chez Rennie…


In Quito, Volvo triple-buses run at quite high speeds on dedicated lanes, even on the narrow streets of the Centro Historico…


A typical glassed-in station in Quito; you enter through a turnstile having paid your 25 cent fare, then board the bus through all doors very quickly when it arrives.