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Public Transport in Santiago: Expanding metro and BRT network [free access]

July 1, 2021

The Government of Santiago attempted to reform the city’s public transportation system in the 1990s, and implemented new routes in 1994 as part of this revamping effort. Nevertheless, the problems facing thepublic transportation system persisted. These included overlapping routes, high levels of air and noise pollution, and rider and driver safety. Transantiago, a new transportation system, was created to address these concerns. On February 10, 2007, the system went live, integrating other core public transport services across the city, as well as the subway and local feeder routes, under a unified payment system based on a contactless smartcard.

 

In 2019, the government modified the transportation system once again, adopting the RED Metropolitana de Movilidad (Metropolitan Mobility Network) public transportation system. It functions by merging local (feeder) and main bus lines, as well as commuter trains and the metro system. It incorporates an integrated fare system that allows customers to use a contactless smartcard to transfer between different modes of transport for the price of one ticket.

 

Currently, the public transport system in Santiago consists of an extensive and growing system of underground rail lines and a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. In order to increase connectivity and improve frequency of service, the Government of Santiago has undertaken development works for the extension of the current metro lines as well as the addition of three new lines to the Santiago Metro network. It is also looking to transition the current BRT fleet in the city to electric buses under the Zero Emission Bus Rapid-deployment Accelerator (ZEBRA) initiative. The plan under this initiative is to shift all new bus procurements in Latin American cities to zero-emission technologies.

 

Metrorail

 

The Santiago Metro is a rapid transit system (RTS) that primarily serves the provinces of Santiago and Cordillera. The metro system covers over 142 km and consists of six operational lines connecting to 118 stations. The average footfall is around 2.4 million per day on all the six lines. The system is managed by state-owned Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.). It is the only RTS in Chile.

 

Table 1 gives an overview of the existing rail lines in the Santiago Metro network.

 

Table 1: Operational metro lines in Santiago

Line

Length (km)

Stations

Rolling stock

Manufacturer

Model

1

20.4

27

Alstom

CAF

CAF

NS 93

NS 2007

NS 2012

2

20.7

22

Concarril

Alstom

Alstom

NS 88

NS 2004

NS 2016

3

22

18

CAF

AS 2014

4

24.7

23

Alstom

AS 2002

4A

7.7

6

Alstom

AS 2002

5

29.7

30

Alstom

Alstom

NS 74

NS 2016

6

15

10

CAF

AS 2014

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

Figure 1 shows the current routes and the existing operational lines of the Santiago Metro network.

 

Figure 1: Metro routes in Santiago and operational lines

 

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

Expansion projects

 

Metro S.A. announced the extension of Lines 2 and 3 on May 26, 2016, adding 8.9 km and seven new stations to the metro network. Both these extensions are scheduled to open for commercial operations in the second half of 2021. The combined investment required for the completion of both the extensions is USD876 million. Line 2 will be extended to the south of Santiago, adding 5.1 km and four new stations between the current terminal station in La Cisterna and the San Bernardo neighbourhood. The westward extension of Line 3 will add 3.8 km and three additional stations to the city’s metro network, connecting the future station at Los Libertadores with Quilicura.

 

On June 1, 2018, the extension of Line 4 to the sector of Bajos de Mena in Puente Alto was announced. The extension will add 4km of metro network to the existing line as well as three new stations. It is scheduled to be operational in 2028.

 

Table 2 gives an overview of the extensions and new lines for the Santiago Metro network.

 

Table 2: Upcoming expansion projects for Santiago Metro network

Line

Length (km)

Stations

Expected date of commencement

Extension

2

5.2

4

2023

3

3.8

3

2023

4

4

3

2028

6

2.5

TBA

TBA

New Lines

7

26

19

2027

8

19

14

2028

9

17

12

2026

Notes: TBA –To be announced

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

The Government of Chile had announced plans for the construction of a new line, Line 7, in June 2017, which will run from Renca in the northwest of Santiago to Vitacura in the northeast. It will pass through Vitacura, Providencia, Las Condes,Quinta Normal, and Cerro Navia. It will add 26 km and 19 new stations to the Santiago Metro network. Line 7 is expected to open in 2025, at an initial cost estimate of USD2.53 billion.

 

The upcoming Line 8 will span nearly 20 km and add 14 new stations to the rail network in the city of Santiago. It will run from Providencia in the northeast to Puente Alto in the southeast and will connect with the existing Lines 1, 3, 4, and 6. Plans for an additional new line,Line 9,were also announced for the Santiago Metro. Line 9 will span 17 km, connecting Santiago to La Pintana.

 

Metro S.A. declared the tenders for Lines 8 and 9 void on March 9, 2020, as the company had to redirect the resources forcarrying out repair works at other stations.

 

Rolling stock

 

The majority of the rail cars in operation have been manufactured by Alstom and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). The current fleet consists of 1,339 railcars.

 

In November 2020, the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) deployed four new NS 2016 trainsets on Line 5. Each seven-car train has a capacity of 1,342 passengers.The deployment of the NS 2016 trains is part of a project that includes 35 trains, out of which 19 trains were deployed on Line 2 in 2018. The new train sets have now replaced the 1974 models on Lines 2 and 5. All trains will be delivered by end-2021.

 

The NS 2012 trains began service on Line 1 in September 2012. They are the first trains in the metro network to be equipped with air conditioning.

 

Line 6 deploys the AS-2014 (Acero Santiago 2014) trainset, which is the system’s first driverless model. However, there is a control panel in the first and last cars that can be used to manage the train if necessary. The AS-2014is also the first train set with surveillance cameras, overhead electricity generation system, and evacuation doors. The AS-2014 is also the second train setto have air conditioning and the third to use LED lighting among the Santiago Metro network train sets.

 

Model NS-2016, which is manufactured by Alstom, is currently undergoing assembly and further testing. It will replace part of the NS-75 fleet once approved.

 

Ridership

 

Ridership remained fairly stable across all lines and increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.4 per cent.

 

Table 3 provides information about the annual ridership of the existing lines.

 

Table 3: Ridership of Santiago Metro network (2015–2021) (million passengers)

Year

Line

1

2

3

4

4A

5

6

Total

2015

257.42

118.76

-

119.79

20.63

144.57

-

661.17

2016

260.99

121.10

-

120.24

20.80

146.94

-

670.07

2017

270.65

122.97

-

118.82

20.40

146.76

5.46

685.06

2018

278.07

121.25

-

118.94

19.97

143.67

39.11

721.01

2019

262.69

102.89

55.82

101.89

16.54

123.10

40.74

703.67

2020

92.75

42.91

27.21

37.51

5.90

39.14

16.35

261.77

2021

15.69

7.51

5.09

7.23

1.32

8.68

2.96

48.49

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

Due to the pandemic, ridership in 2020 was 63 per cent lower than in 2019.The maximum decline in ridership was witnessed in the April–August 2020 period. Ridership in each month was at least 80 per cent lower than that of the corresponding period in 2019.

 

Table 4 provides information about the ridership of Santiago Metro in 2019 and 2020.

 

Table 4: Ridership of Santiago Metro (2019–2020) (million passengers)

Month

Year

2019

2020

January

56.83

48.35

February

46.56

40.51

March

67.03

31.60

April

68.40

8.94

May

69.03

7.73

June

65.65

6.65

July

65.66

8.06

August

69.94

12.18

September

60.51

18.00

October

48.85

24.29

November

36.80

27.19

December

48.41

28.28

Total

703.67

261.77

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

Open tenders

 

Metro S.A. has invited bids for the expansion project of the Santiago Metro.

 

Table 5 gives an overview of the open bids for the Santiago Metro projects.

 

Table 5: Open tenders for Santiago Metro Network project

Line

Scope of work

Deadline for  submissionof bids

6

Construction of metro Line 6 stations Cerrillos, Lo Valledor, and Club Hípico

October 29, 2021

3

Construction of maintenance yards and garages

October 30, 2021

3

Implementation of civil works

October 15, 2021

5

Construction of connection of Line 5 and Line 3

October 15, 2021

7

Provision of technical inspection services for select sections of Line 7

September 22, 2021

7

Supply and maintenance of rolling stock and communication-based train control (CBTC) system that will be deployed on Line 7

July 15, 2021

Source: Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro S.A. (Metro S.A.)

 

Metrotrén

 

The Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE) provides suburban rail services in Santiago under the name Metrotrén. It has two southern routes.

 

-       The Metrotrén Nos service runs between Santiago’s Central Station and San Bernardo’s Nos station. It has the highest number of daily footfalls. This line, which opened in 2017, transports 8 million people annually, with 12 trains serving 10 stations at a frequency of 6 minutes during rush hours and 12 minutes duringnon-rush hours.

-       The Metrotrén Rancagua service, which runs between Santiago’s Central Station and Rancagua station, connects Santiago with O’Higgins.

 

Buses

 

Since 2007, the bus network in the city has undergone a complete overhaul. In comparison to Santiago’s old buses, at least half of the rolling stock now consists of low-floor buses featuring a blocking mechanism that prevents the vehicle from moving until all doors have been closed. In addition, all new buses in Santiago meet the Euro III emission standard.

 

The primary bus line is made up of a fleet of articulated (18 meters long) and normal buses(12 meters long), while the local services are operated with normal buses and minibuses.

 

Rolling stock

 

Most of the low-floor buses for Transantiago were built by Volvo. The current rolling stock includes 1,157 B9SALF model buses and 510 B7RLE model buses.

 

The articulated low-floor B9SALF Volvo bus has a capacity of about 160 passengers. It features four double doors and is18.5 metres long. The Volvo B7RLE bus features three double doors and has a low floor between the first and second doors. It has a capacity of roughly 80 passengers. It measures 12 metres in length.

 

Electrification

 

In 2014, Santiago began implementing an electric bus programme.The city intends to have a zero-emission public transportation system in place by 2040. The BRT system received its first three entirely electric buses in 2017 and 400 electric buses were introduced into the current public transportation system by the end of 2019. In 2019, Santiago also completed and put into service Latin America’s first 100 per cent electric bus corridor, which has 40 bus stops and various charging stations, allowing electric buses to be fully charged in about five hours.

 

Electric bus deployment and tenders

 

Table 6 gives an overview of the deployment of e-buses in Santiago.

 

Table 6: Electric bus deployment in Santiago 

Year

Bus type

Number

Contractee/Supplier

2020

BYDelectric bus

150

BYD

2020

FotonAUV e-bus

215

FotonAUV

2019

BYDelectric bus

183

BYD

2018

E-12 electric bus

100

Yutong

2018

BYD K9FE bus

100

BYD

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

At present, MTT is holding an open tender to replace almost 2,030 buses in Santiago as well as make significant improvements to the transportation system’s structure.

 

Although it is unclear how many buses in of the current tender are for electric buses specifically, several incentives for the adoption of e-buses have been included. For buses with internal combustion engines, the fleet contracts are available for ten years, while for electric buses, the term has been extended to 14 years. Operators that lease buses from suppliers will be given five-year contracts that can be extended for up to another fiveyears depending on performance. Additionally, if electric buses account for the majority of the base operational fleet, the contract will be awarded for seven years, with the option of extending it for another seven years based on performance.