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Car-Sharing in Ecuador

January 8, 2011

Ecuador does not have an official car-sharing program, in Quito or any other city.  But as far as I can tell, there is an unofficial car sharing program across the country that functions well enough that the majority of people do not have cars, and they seem to feel like they can get where they need to go.

It was while taking a taxi in Quito one day that it crossed my mind that the taxis here function like car sharing.  If we can’t get where we need to go either on foot or on a bus, because it is too far, or because we want to get there faster, we take a taxi.  It seems that taxis are readily available across Ecuador, not just in the big cities.  And like paying a small amount to use a Zipcar for an hour or two, we can pay a taxi driver for the use of his car and fuel.  In addition, he gets employment.

Thinking about it more, it seems that the busses and taxis work together to create the effective car sharing system here in Ecuador.  For most trips that are longer than walking, people (including us) take the busses.  The busses are frequent and inexpensive.  In most cases, around town and between nearby towns, busses run every 5-15 minutes throughout the day and cost 25 cents for adults and 12 cents for children/students.  Busses for longer trips often run every hour or two each day, or for remote locations, twice a day, and they cost roughly $1/hour of riding time.  We have managed to travel most everywhere we wanted to go in Ecuador taking busses and the occasional taxi.  Often times, the ride is bumpy, the music too loud, or the movies inappropriate for children.  But as far as moving people where they need to go, this system works well, and means that in the end there are fewer cars on the road.

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