Spanish Vocabulary for Public Transportation

Instructor: Angelica Roy

Angelica is an educator and a journalist. She has a master's degree in education, a bachelor's degree in linguistics and languages, and a second major in journalism.

Public transportation in many countries is a need, and if you visit a Spanish-speaking country, you might need to utilize some form of public transportation. Therefore, it could be very useful to study the key vocabulary words and expressions presented in this lesson.

Means of Transportation

Some of the most common forms of public transportation in many Spanish-speaking countries are buses and taxis. You can often find both of them in big and small cities, but usually buses transport people from town to town and the taxis within the city limit. Here is a list of transportation vehicles in Spanish:

Spanish Pronunciation English
(el) bus, autobús /boos/, /ow.tow.boos/ bus
(la) buseta /boo.SEH.tah/ small bus
(el) taxi /TAHK.see/ taxi, cab
(el) colectivo /koh.lehk.TEE.boh/ shared taxi
(el) carro /KAH.roh/ car
(el) tren /trehn/ train
(el) camión /kah.mee.OHN/ truck
(la) camioneta /kah.mee.oh.NEH.tah/ van, pickup truck
(el) avión /ah.bee.OHN/ plane
(la) avioneta /ah.vee.oh.NEH.tah/ light aircraft
(el) helicóptero /eh.lee.KOHP.teh.roh/ helicopter
(el) barco /BARH.coh/ ship
(el) bote /BOH.teh/ small boat
(la) canoa /KAH.noh.AH/ canoe
(el) yate /JAH.teh/ yacht
(la) motocicleta /moh.toh.see.KLEH.tah/ motorcycle
(la) bicicleta /bee.see.KLEH.tah/ bicycle
(el) metro /MEH.troh/ subway

Some Cultural Facts About Transportation in Spanish-Speaking Countries

  • Due to rapid population growths and, at times, lack of well-planned infrastructures, many cities and towns face difficult transportation issues. As public transportation is sometimes inefficient or insufficient to cover transportation needs, there are often too many vehicles on the streets, causing traffic jams and pollution.

  • Carro (pronounced: /KAH.roh/): car, can also be called coche (pronounced: /KOH.cheh/ or auto (pronounced: /AH.ooh.toh/)

  • Bus (pronounced: /boos/): bus, is called guagua (pronounced: /wuah.wuah/) in Cuba and Spain and camión (pronounced: /kah.mee.OHN/) in M&oecute;xico

  • Transmilenio (pronounced: /trahns.mee.LEH.nee.oh/) is the massive public transportation system in Bogotá, Colombia

Transmilenio in Colombia
Public Transport 1

Actions and Useful Expressions

These verbs can help you move around a Spanish-speaking country:

Spanish Pronunciation Meaning
viajar en bus /bee.ah.HAHR ehn boos/ to travel by bus
coger el bus /koh.HEHR ehl boos/ to catch the bus
subir al bus /soo.BEEHR ahl boos/ to get on the bus
bajar del bus /bah.HAHR dehl boos/ to get off the bus
ir a pie /eer ah pee.EH/ to go on foot
pedir un taxi /peh.DEER oon TAHK.see/ ask for a cab
llegar /yeh.GAHR/ to arrive
irse /EER.seh/ to go
salir /sah.LEER/ to leave, to depart
abordar /ah.bohr.DAHR/ to board
embarcarse /ehm.bahr.KAHR.seh/ to embark
desembarcar /deh.sehm.bahr.KAHR/ to disembark
poner gasolina /poh.NEHR gah.soh.LEE.nah/ to put gas
manejar, conducir /mah.neh.HAHR/ /kohn.doo.SEER to drive (a car, a truck)
montar /mohn.TAHR/ to ride (a bike, a motorcycle)
pilotear /pee.loh.teh.AHR/ to fly (a plane)

Here are some other useful expressions you might need when visiting a Spanish-speaking country:

Spanish Pronunciation English
(la) tarjeta de viaje /tahr.HEH.tah deh bee.AH.heh/ travel card
(el) pasaje de ida /pah.SAH.heh deh EE.dah/ one-way ticket
(el) pasaje de ida y vuelta /pah.SAH.heh deh EE.dah ee boo.EHL.tah/ round-trip ticket
(la) estación /ehs.tah.see.OHN/ station
(la) parada de bus /pah.RAH.dah. deh boos/ bus stop
(el) trancón /trahn.KOHN/ traffic jam
(la) ruta /ROO.tah/ route
(el) viaje /bee.AH.heh/ trip

Here is how you would you say some transportation phrases:

I leave for the airport at 6:00 a.m.

  • Salgo para el aeropuerto a las 6:00 a.m. (pronounced: /SAHL.goh PAH.rah ehl ah lahs SEH.ees

The plane leaves at 11:00 a.m..

  • El avión sale a las 11:00 a.m. (pronounced: /ehl ah.bee.OHN SAH.leh ah lahs ohn.seh

The ship arrives at 6:00 p.m.

  • El barco llega a las 6:00 p.m. (pronounced: /ehl BARH.koh YEH.gah ah lahs SEH.ees

I travel by car.

  • Viajo en carro. (pronounced: /vee.AH.hoh ehn KAH.roh/)

I travel by plane.

  • Viajo en avión. (pronounced: /vee.AH.hoh ehn ah.bee.OHN/)

I need to ask for a cab.

  • Necesito pedir un taxi. (pronounced: /neh.seh.SEE.toh peh.DEER oon TAHK.see/)

I need to put gas in the car.

  • Necesito ponerle gasolina al carro. (pronounced: /neh.seh.SEE.toh poh.NEHR.leh gah.soh.LEE.nah ahl kah.roh/

Transportation in Bogota, Colombia

How To Ask For Information About Public Transportation

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