Local transportation in Ecuador is not a happy ride.
This time I will like to provide some safe knowledge on local bus transportation, specially the inter provincial bus service that will take you between cities in Ecuador.
This is not a service I will use and recommend based on my personal evaluation while living here in Ecuador. I did try the service few times between travels to Quito, Cuenca and the Coastal region, but every time I did I was very disappointed and felt pretty unsafe. I am very open and understand the local culture, but the local bus service goes beyond real dangerous situations to its users. I will say they really do not respect users’ life and safety.
You must it heard by now, that it takes some daring to drive in Ecuador; I will simply put it that there is an aggressive driving condition on any road and city in Ecuador. Must roads have physically improved over time, what you have to be aware of it’s the dogging game you must play while driving. It is not uncommon to find drivers that do not respect street lights or signals, or driving on the wrong side of the road, or taking over a car without all the proper precautions. You will also find people or animals that will be crossing or walking with even noticing cars passing by.
All this happens on city streets as in any highway of Ecuador. Why do I mention all those local road and driving situations? Well, all of that reflects specially on local bus drivers, added to all of those road’s conditions, must drivers are over worked, they are put under time pressure for each trip, some of them do not even hold a professional driver’s license, and since they are not well paid, most of them work over time without taking the proper time out need it to rest.
My hall purpose here is to make you aware of the possible risks if you decide to take a bus to travel in Ecuador. You could always take all the proper precautions to avoid been robed or moped while on the bus, but there is no way to play safe on the driving conditions on your bus trip.
On daily basis you here of tragic accidents from buses on the highways, I often see them while traveling to the beach, if it is not the drivers fault they blame it on the bus mechanical condition, or some other vehicle cause the bus to run off the highway. Up to know law enforcement have try a lot of different tactics, but honestly I do not see any improvement or change.
Just last weekend that I was driving to Playas Villamil, Coastal Ecuador, I took my chance and started to tailgating (for research purposes) a buss driving from Guayaquil to Playas, the speed that the bus was traveling was of 130 kph, I was shocked of such a high speed for a public transportation. Just few kilometers before Playas, I was stopped by a Highway Patrol and got a speeding ticket; they had a picture of my car going at 111 kph. I would say that their radars are kind of off the track, and by the way the local maximum speed aloud is 100 kph.
I was so surprised that the bus I was tailgating was not stopped with me, so I stated my complaint to the officer, he ended up telling me that they are always getting speeding tickets. I don’t know what the logic behind that answer was.
We are not going to solve the bus driving situation in Ecuador, but we could avoid traveling on a weapon with wheels.
There are other options which I will always recommend, the best income airport is Guayaquil International Airport, it is rank as one of the best in South America, easy access and excellent services, and from there you could rent a car, hire a taxi, or even get local contacts that will be willing to provide you with safe transportation services. You will be spending some money, but your life means a lot more than few dollars.
Keep safe while retiring or traveling in Ecuador!