It's 8:00 a.m. and in Santiago life takes the course of a normal weekday: the streets are increasingly crowded, street vendors loudly promote their products, while children walk hurriedly along with their parents so as not to be late for classes. The Transantiago bus stops are also full of people waiting for their respective buses, submerged in their own worlds, focused on their cell phones, while different types of music escape from some headphones.
Carlos, 33, is a street singer and his stage is the Transantiago buses. He is wearing simple black clothes and a hat with a pair of feathers stuck in it and he carries his guitar slung by a strap over his shoulder. His repertoire consists of Chilean and Latin American folklore accompanied by a dramatic guitar and a voice reminiscent of the boleros of the past. Carlos waits every day for the bus 516, which from Avenida El Descanso, crosses the districts of Peñalolén, Ñuñoa, Santiago, Estación Central, Maipú, and Pudahuel.
The bus can barely be heard when it arrives, the doors open and the magnetic Bip cards begin to beep as passengers climb aboard. Carlos goes up and greets the driver, they have known each other for a while now, "the new bus is great" he says before going to his spot where he starts to tune his instrument. Some users make similar comments since they didn’t know that the noisy buses to which they were accustomed on their route had been replaced.
The Route 516 now has two new buses, which are part of the electric mobility revolution in Chile. Promoted by the Ministry of Transport in conjunction with the companies ByD, Enel Chile, and Metbus, these electric buses began to operate in the first days of November and are an example of technology applied in public transport: greater passenger capacity, air conditioning, cell phone chargers, and free wifi. These, are the first group of electric buses that in the future will reach 90 units circulating in the city of Santiago, contributing to the decontamination of the city and generating environmental awareness in the users.
“Si me quiere mucho poquito nada…” is Violeta Parra's classic song that Carlos sings to his smiling audience, which inspires him to sing "La Consentida" while he asks the person next to him to charge his phone. The 516 is reaching downtown Santiago and most of the passengers begin to ring the bell to get off the bus. Carlos is aware of the movement of the passengers and begins his final speech to say goodbye to his stage and the audience that accompanied him. "If you do not have a coin, just give me a smile so that life is happier, and let's thank our driver who brought us here safely and nice and cool on this bus." The people return smiles and a couple of coins. He gets off at the bus stop and greets his other regular bus from afar, while the 516 continues on a quieter, cleaner, and more pleasant route for the public.