Transportation in El Salvador. What you Need to Know!

By Karla Ramos  |  Jan 10th, 2022
Transportation in El Salvador
El Salvador traffic. Photo by @elsalvadornewSV

The best modes of transportation in El Salvador are driving, taking taxis, shuttles, uber’s, and public transportation. The best way of getting around El Salvador changes depending on the starting location or final destination.

These forms of transportation have good and bad reasons for using or not using them; it will be up to each individual to decide which one is better given the circumstances. But remember, getting around El Salvador takes time, no matter what type you choose to use.

Public buses are the most common way of transportation in El Salvador; this is due to the cost and accessibility. However, they have issues such as the quality of service and the low-grade conditions of buses.

El Salvador Transportation
Traffic jam in El Salvador.

Public Transportation

The Salvadoran public transportation system includes buses and micro-buses; this is the most common form of transportation in the country. The country has a comprehensive network of private buses that provide services to all parts of the country, urban and rural.

The vice ministry of transport or VMT is the governmental entity overseeing this national transportation system.

There are good reasons to take the buses in the public transportation system; however, there are also good reasons not to use these buses.

Let us begin by pointing out the good things about public transportation, such as cost and convenience.

The cost. Public buses or public transportation is the cheapest and most affordable form of transit. For example, a trip within the capital of about 5 miles will cost less than $0.75.

Also, from the capital city of San Salvador to Sensuntepeque, about 80 kilometers away, will cost less than $3.00. It is definitely affordable to take the public bus.

The convenience. Public buses are all over the place, especially in larger cities. Even in smaller towns, public buses run often enough that you will never have to wait long.

El Salvador Transportation
Salvadoran Traffic. Photo by Alertux

Now, let us focus on the bad when it comes to public transportation. But, please keep in mind that not all buses or bus routes are the same.

Overcrowded buses are a problem; this happens regularly, especially in larger cities and during rush hour. It’s not fun to end up on one of these buses, particularly during the hot days of summer.

Safety on public buses is another concern; some bus routes are often targeted by criminals or go by unsafe neighborhoods.

Careless bus drivers are another problem regarding public transportation. Since there is not much policing around, some bus drivers go fast and act recklessly.

Accidents caused by careless bus drivers or units in bad conditions are common occurrences.

Public transportation is cheap and convenient. So, if you decide to use it, make sure the bus you are taking is on a safe route.

El Salvador Public Transportation
Public bus in El Salvador. Photo by VMT

Driving

Driving is the best mode of transportation in El Salvador. Even if it means dealing with traffic, crazy drivers, and roads in poor conditions. Driving will give you more freedom to do what you want and when you want to do it!

Now, driving in El Salvador is not all good; there are things about getting behind the wheel in this small nation that you need to be aware of.

For instance, if you are driving in populated areas, you need to be aware of distracted pedestrians, public buses, and irritated drivers; they are all over.

Similarly, if you are on rural roads, you need to pay attention to animals such as cows and dogs; they are all over and will jump in front of your car without much warning.

Undoubtedly, driving is the best way to get around El Salvador. Yes, you will have to deal with some issues as you drive, but, without a doubt, it is the best way to get around!

Shuttles or Private Drivers

Shuttles are another great way to get around the country; they are comfortable, and you don’t need to deal with the burden of driving. It will seem nice to let someone else deal with the driving.

Taking a shuttle removes the pressure of driving away from you. Therefore, allowing you the time to enjoy yourself by either appreciating the ride or catching up on other things.

Although shuttles are mainly available for longer rides, and the cost will be higher than other types of transportation, it might be worth doing just for the relaxing part.

Taking a shuttle instead of driving is a great idea; if you want to relax during the trip and don’t mind the higher cost.

Taxi and Uber

Taxis or Uber are another way of getting around in El Salvador; however, these services are only available in larger cities. They are not that expensive if you compare them with the cost of taxis and Uber in US cities.

The good about taking a taxi or uber in the largest cities in El Salvador is the cost and that they are available all over.

However, a common concern when taking a taxi or Uber is safety. Yes, the industry is regulated but is not strictly overseen.

I am not suggesting that they shouldn’t be used; just be more careful when you do.

Trains or Planes

As of 2021, El Salvador does not have domestic flights or train services.

Transportation in El Salvador – Other INFO

It doesn’t matter which method of transportation you decide to use; at some point, you will have to deal with traffic, crazy drivers, and roads in poor conditions.

Traffic

Traffic in El Salvador is severe, especially in larger congested cities. This traffic results from the country’s infrastructure and lack of regulations.

There is a lack of controls that leads to traffic jams and accidents. For example, let’s take public buses.

Public buses stop whenever they choose to at any point on the route. They either drop off or pick up passengers without regard for the chaos they are creating.

Crazy Drivers

El Salvador has a lot of crazy drivers. I am not sure why that is, but the country has many people that should not be driving.

One particular reason that comes to mind is the lack of governmental control; there is not enough policing around to prevent such drivers from acting recklessly.

Some things reckless drivers do often in El Salvador are speeding, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a license.

El Salvador Road Quality

The Salvadoran roads are among the best in Central America. And in 2021 and 2022, the ministry of public works “MOP” expects to carry out a historic investment in road infrastructure.

Nonetheless, not all Salvadoran roads are well maintained. So, be prepared to encounter roads in poor conditions while traveling in El Salvador.

Transportation in El Salvador
Public bus in El Salvador.

Transportation in El Salvador

In summary, the best mode of transportation in the county is driving, followed by taking uber’s or taxis, and then everything else. Nonetheless, the best type of transportation changes depending on individual needs.


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