Commuter insights: combis and microbuses in Lima, Peru

Our latest white paper, understanding the mobility ground truth in Lima, explores the public transport modes that commuters in Peru’s largest city use to get around. Two of those are combis and microbuses, the latter of which is abbreviated to micros in Peruvian Spanish.

Combis in Lima, Peru (Source)

Every day, people spend an average of two hours commuting on journeys that combine many of the city’s transport modes, without reliable information to help them along the way. Despite the size, scale, and importance of these mobility networks, digital information on routes, stops, and fares is hard to come by.

Combis and micros are two of Lima’s more flexible modes, following set routes around the city, but flagged down by passengers on demand rather than operating fixed pick-ups. The flexibility of these popular modes mean they fill the gaps where Metropolitano buses and the Metro aren’t available.

What do these modes look like?

Combis are minibuses with a single door that accommodate up to 24 passengers. Micros are bigger than combis, accommodating up to 50 passengers. In a recent post, we highlighted the importance of headsigns on these modes for supporting commuters with their mobility decisions.

Vehicle headsigns aid commuter decisions (Source)

Many people in Lima and other emerging-market cities identify their regular mode of transport—particularly minibuses—by looking at the name or colour at the front of the vehicle. Combis and micros in Lima typically have signs that display the route number and terminal stations on signs.

Combis and microbuses are privately owned, and operate multiple routes across the city. Travelling on both modes can come with some risk, as drivers compete with each other to reach passengers first. Unlike some other modes in the city, combis provide cheap and accessible transport late into the night, ideal for commuters travelling home at times of lower demand.

Uncovering informal modes like these is a crucial part of our mission at WhereIsMyTransport. Digitalising complete network information means every mode of public transport of every operational style, turning local knowledge into data that helps people understand movement and place in Lima.

Discover more about how people travel around Lima in our white paper.