|The Peruvian combi--such an unassuming, quiet creature when it´s resting...|
The combi system is a push-and-shove of a transportation system that´s distinctly Peruvian, a well-oiled machine that´s barely detectable to the common traveler. It starts at the ground level, with the two-man team of the bus driver and cobrador. The bus driver darts in and out of traffic to shuttle passengers to their desired destinations in the fastest possible time, while the cobrador keeps track of the schedule, the number of passengers, and the number of tickets. It´s the ultimate drag race to the next stop—one combi always riding the exhaust pipe of another, looking for the next opportunity to pass, passengers and passersby breathing in the fumes. All this hustle is to make money not for the city, but for privately-owned umbrella companies. Some are legal, some are not.
They call them combis asesinas (killer combis), because in the rat race to the nearest paradero, they´ve been known to hit innocent pedestrians. Here in Peru, it´s safer to be inside the combi than outside. With fares averaging one sol (about $0.40), occasional vendors selling everything from office supplies to jewelry, and salsa on the radio, they just might be the more enjoyable option, too. Great marketing strategy.