That the sprawling Peruvian capital of Lima, home to nearly 9 million people, needs a more comprehensive transportation infrastructure will come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to traverse the city on an ordinary weekday. Getting from the moneyed business district of San Isidro to the historic centre of town, for example, can take up to an hour even though the distance is only a few kilometres. Overcrowded public busses and private cars crawl along at a snail’s pace as vehicles choke arteries originally built to transport a fraction of the number of people travelling now.
“What we've tried to introduce is the concept of cultura-metro, to change the mentality of the people,” says Gonzalo Ferraro Rey, president of the company Grana y Montero, which alongside Odebrecht Perú undertook a massive expansion of Línea 1 of the Metro de Lima under the umbrella of their joint entity, the Consorcio Metro de Lima. The line now runs 35 kilometres.
“Before the metro people would go out into the street, they raised their hand and when the micro-bus would stop they would jump in, but never knowing when the bus is coming or when he would arrive to his [destination]. Now the train says it will arrive at the station at 15:14 and it arrives at 15:14. Here, that didn't exist at all. The mentality of the people is changing,” says Mr Ferraro Rey.
The metro currently runs from the coastal suburb of Villa El Salvador to Lima's most populous district, San Juan de Lurigancho, in the city's east, and has a ridership in the region of 300,000 people per day.
"Infrastructure has been important to this government," says Ricardo Boleira, director of Odebrecht Perú, referring to the administration of Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, in office since 2011. "Urban transport, improving the connectivity between cities, is an opportunity for investment," he adds.
There are plans to expand the metro system even further, though they have not been without some bumps. In March, Peru awarded a $5.7bn project to build Línea 2 – which will connect Lima’s eastern suburbs with the province of Callao, where the port is located – to the Consorcio Nuevo Metro de Lima, a group led by Actividades de Construccion y Servicios, a Spanish construction company. The project has come under fire for what some see as excessive expense. Nevertheless, third and fourth metro lines for Lima are planned, as is a metro for Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa.