This is looking down Avenida Pedro de Valdivia. Notice the cobblestones.
There are many good choices for transportation in Santiago for people who do not own a vehicle.
Most people own a small sedan or hatchback. There are few full-size trucks or SUVs because of the $8 gas. This is where the companies — like Peugeot, Renault, Samsung, and others that do not meet U.S. auto regulations — thrive.
Delivery vans are usually made by Hyundai or Chinese companies, with small but diesel-fueled engines. Most delivery services, like pizza and other things that are small enough, transport by motorcycle, with a big crate mounted on the back seat. Most of these motorcycles are very cheap 125cc bikes that probably get 100 miles per gallon or more. The riders do pretty crazy things like cut to the front of the line at stop lights and occasionally ride on the sidewalk.
For the lot of people that do not have a car, they must use buses, taxis, colectivos, or the subway.
Another possibility is bike riding. Santiago has many bike paths, about 5ft wide with two lanes. Some people have bikes with gas motors mounted on them. During rush (haha) hour you can sometimes keep up with the cars.
Colectivos are like buses, usually in the form of a sedan, that drive a single route, usually a large road going from one side of town to the other. Thus, they can carry up to 4 people going different places at the same time. You pay by the person, not the mileage, like taxis.
Watching one cycle of the stop light– Looking down a major street with 3 or 4 lanes you see the light turn red. Cars start slowing down. The peatones (pedestrians) start to walk across the road. The juggler runs out in front of the cars and starts his performance. A bus usually ends up in the right lane of the road, the designated bus lane. 2 or 3 motorcycles flow down through traffic to the front of the line. The juggler, with his accurate timing, catches his balls or torches and begins walking down through the line of cars, making eye contact with each driver to appeal for a tip. Shortly thereafter, The light turns green, one last in-a-hurry peaton runs across the road, forcing a couple cars to wait another second. And then they all accelerate. Motorcycles first, buses last with a roar and a puff of smoke.
For the subway and the bus, you have a “Bip” card (pronunced “Beep”) that you swipe when getting on a bus or when entering the subway system. The kids under about 10 just duck under the turnstile and this seems to be expected, normal behavior.
Santiago has a very nice subway system. They have good security, smooth rides, and very clean stations, often with official graffiti or sculptures. The buses are not as nice. They are noisy, and are a major contributor to the city smog. But it is an effective system. Using the bus and metro, you can travel from anywhere to anywhere in the 20 miles+ diameter city for about $1.50