Carro Publicos are another form of transportation that you see on a local level.
They are public taxis that run along specific routes. As a passenger, you buy a
spot in the carro publico and share the carro publico with other passengers.
There are four spots for sale in the backseat of the publico and two in the
front. If you are concerned about being crowded and want some personal space,
you can buy the front two spots for yourself.
One good thing about carros publicos is that they do not have predetermined
stops along their routes so you can request to get out at any point you like.
Because you are sharing the carro publicos with other passengers, they are
considerably cheaper than private taxis and very popular. In Santo Domingo,
carro publicos run along all of the major avenues and make getting around the
city very easy and inexpensive.
Guaguas are minivans or minibuses. Like publicos, they generally travel along a
set route but they have predetermined stops. They also carry more passengers and
at times, can get quite crowded. Guaguas normally have a guy who hangs on the
side of the door and yells his destination at people along the street. He is
known as the “cobrador” and also takes your fare and tells you where to sit.
Like publicos, Guaguas are considerably more reasonable than private taxis and
How to catch a ride
To get a ride on the city’s public transportation system, just stand on the side
of any relatively major street and let your fingers do the talking. Stick your
hand out and sort of wave in the direction you want to go. For example, to go
straight, extend your finger parallel to the street. You can observe more
experienced riders for style tips.
Many vehicles just travel back and forth along one road. Others will turn onto
other main streets. To catch one of those, point your thumb back over your
shoulder. Drivers and conductors will help you by doing their own pointing.
Often you will need to take a couple of separate rides to get where you want to
go, and as long as you know where that is, it isn’t too difficult. Stick to main
roads if you’re uncertain, and ask the driver to tell you when you reach your
Public transportation useful phrases
Limited knowledge of the Spanish language is not a problem when taking public
transportation in the Dominican Republic. However, there are some words and
phrases that are useful to know. Say “derecho” if you want to go straight ahead
(not to be confused with “derecha”, which means to the right). If you want to
know if the vehicle goes as far as a specific street, ask “hasta (whatever
street name)”. The only answer you need is a nod or a shake of the head.
There are several ways to say you want to get out of the vehicle. In the buses
or minibuses or even in cars, if the radio’s blaring you might have to scream.
Don’t be shy, or you may end up somewhere you’d rather not be. General “stop”
expressions include “déjeme” (Let me out!) and “dónde pueda” (Wherever you
To stop at the next corner, say “en la esquina” at bigger intersections, you
might want to say “antes de cruzar” or “después de cruzar” (Before or after you
cross the intersection.)
Motoconchos are motorbikes that are used as taxis and are more popular in small
towns than they are in the capital city. Basically, you just climb onto the
motorcycle behind the driver and tell him where you want to go. They usually
only travel short distances and are inexpensive, however, many people consider
them to be unsafe as their accident rate is high as compared to taxis.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of ways to get around and experience all of
the wonderful things that beautiful Dominican Republic has to offer.