Metros in Venezuela: Maracaibo Metro

Maracaibo is the second most populous city in Venezuela, with more than 3.8 million inhabitants. We are talking about the most important industrial center in western Venezuela. It is present in a petroleum-rich zone. From the colonial period, when it was founded, it experienced latent growth, because it fell victim to groups of pirates that lived in the well-known lake that shares the same name as the city. However, despite difficult conditions to settle down, Maracaibo became a vigorous city and the capital of the state of Zulia. In this manner, the Marabina localities were consistently inhabited during the 20th century.

By the 90s, after one hundred years of population growth, local authorities perceived the imminent collapse of the public transportation system of the metropolis. Because of this, urban specialists suggested a plan to introduce a metro system to the architecture framework in the city, but they initially did not receive a positive response.

Three years later, the first train manufactured for the system arrived from Germany in the port of the city, and was exhibited to the citizenry as proof of economic growth. The Siemens Company collaborated on the signal, automation and electrical part of the work.

The first two train stations were opened in November of 2006, and they were expanded to a total of six in 2009. They make up line 1 and encompass 8.1 km. The amplification and construction of line 2 are under review.

Metro de Maracaibo I

Lines and Stations

In principle, the Compañía Metro de Maracaibo hopes to build four lines. The first of them, and the only one that has been finished, is route 1, from Altos de La Vanega to Libertador, serving 8 kilometers of the center of the city and forming a C-shape on its route.

This first stage is made up of six stations: Altos de La Vanega, El Varillal, El Guayabal, Sabaneta, Urdaneta and Libertador. In the future, an additional eleven stations will be built in two more stages, resulting in seventeen metro stops.

Stations

  • Altos de la Vanega Station: It is located on the Carretera Via Aeropuerto del Municipio Maracaibo, in the northern part of the state of Zulia. It was the first stop of Line 1 of the Maracaibo Metro. Jointly with the neighboring station El Varillal, the opening dates back to the year 2006, but it wouldn’t start working commercially until three years later, in 2009. It serves the inhabitants of the Altos de Vanega. On the other hand, its architecture represents an homage to the first bridge to cross the Maracaibo lake.
  • El Varillal Station: It dates back to the year 2006, like the last station. It also crosses the Carretera Via Aeropuerto del Municipio Maracaibo, specifically at the El Varillal location. It is, along with the Altos de Vanega station, one of the first stations to be opened, despite not serving the public until early on in 2009.
  • El Guayabal Station: Construction work for this stop was finished in 2007, and like the previous stations, it is present on the Carretera Via Aeropuerto, between urbanization El Guayabal and the urbanization Lomas de la Mision del Municipio Maracaibo. It wasn’t open to the public until 2009, like the rest.
  • Sabaneta Station: This stop was opened in May 2008, despite not operating until 2009. It is located on the Carretera Via Aeropuerto, between the barrios Santa Clara and Padre de la Patria del Municipio Maracaibo. The station is made up of one platform shaped like an island, which serves trains coming from both directions.
  • Urdaneta Station: It is situated in Avenida Sabaneta, in the southeastern part of the city. It serves the Tan Trino barrio since 2009, and is the fifth stop in the western direction. Because it is one of the biggest stations, it is the headquarters to the 1ª Exposición Metros de Ciudad, which takes a look at Zulia through photography.
  • Libertador Station: It is the second metro terminal of Maracaibo and the biggest, with three floors. It is situated in the Avenida Libertador, facing the Mercado Las Playitas in the center of the city, near the Tan Trino barrio. It was opened in 2009, like the previous stations.

Hours

The metro operates seven days a week, and its hours are established in two modalities. From Monday through Friday, is serves users from 6 am to 8 pm. The trains arrive every 5 to 10 minutes. In general terms, the system functions efficiently, other than an unprecedented situation that will force a stop to operations to guarantee the safety of passengers.

The trains function from 8 am to 6 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. We recommend that all those that use the Maracaibo Metro, be aware of the official Twitter accounts, as this is where a suspension of operations is announced.

Tickets and Cards

The cost of the Maracaibo Metro was enshrined by presidential decree, and it was established by the national executive. Up until 2017, the value of the general bill barely reached 4 Bolivares. Students pay 1.2 Bs total. It isn’t possible to determine the value of the bill as foreign currency, like the dollar or euro, due to exchange control in the Caribbean nation. In either case, you can inform yourself about the value of the money exchange in Venezuela, online.

The Metro of Maracaibo system is also integrated with two other complimentary services that allow it to expand its reach. These are the metro bus MetroMara and the TransMaracaibo, which are also administered by the Compañía Metro de Maracaibo. Both have a cost of 50 Bs, for the general ticket, costing considerably more than the train system, and 15 bolivares for students. Disabled people and adults older than 60 years can use the Metro, as well as the two complimentary systems, MetroMara and TransMaracaibo, completely free.

Maracaibo Metro

Connections

Starting in 2014 the metro bus MetroMara, the complimentary system of line 1 of the Metro of Maracaibo, began operating. It was created for normal buses, bigger than those nicknamed “camionetas”, which are the principal mode of transportation in most Venezuelan cities.

The routes are short and have medium reach, which helps to expand the reach of the train system. All leave from the stations: Altos de la Vanega, El Guayabal, Sabaneta, Urdaneta and Libertador, comprising five stops in the heavy rail transit. They serve the Cuatricentenario, el Municipio San Francisco, La Limpia, 5 de Julio, Bella Vista, Circunvalación 2 and El Milagro Maracaibo localities.

It should be mentioned that there are two interurban routes with La Concepción and La Cañada de Urdaneta as their destination. In the case of the metro bus that is headed to Bella Vista, it connects in its last stop with the TransGuajira system, administered by the Compañía Metro de Maracaibo.

At the same time the TransMaracaibo is as a complimentary service, made up by buses joined together with medium to long-distance reach journeys. Next, follows the stations where the train system connects with alternative transport services:

Stations

  • Altos de la Vanega Station: It has a connection to 2 metro bus routes. The first one serves Los Altos de Maracaibo, Santa Mónica and Km 4 localities. The second one, passes through the Baru sector, with a final destination of Aeropuerto de La Chinita. It also links up with TransMaracaibo, which serves the La Vanega, San Miguel, La Sibucara, and la Rotaria sectors.
  • El Villarial Station: It has one connection with the metro bus but at the same time, it provides transfers to other routes. In the northern direction, it passes through the Bella Vista sector, Urbanización Sucre, and reaches Hospital Universitario. In the southern direction it serves Centro Sur, Los Mangos, and ends in Kilometro 4. There it connects with the line that heads to Municipio San Francisco and Terminal Simón Bolívar, as well as with the Villa Bolivariana line and the Domitila Flores lines, serving the sectors with the same name.
  • El Guayabal Station: This stop has a connection to the metro bus routes that go to the San Rafael sector and one that heads to Lago Azul.
  • Urdaneta Station: It has one connection to the route that serves Las Colinas, La Unión, El Cuatricentro and Club Hípico localitites. Likewise, it has transfer points in the northern part in three of its stops, with the metro bus line that heads toward El Varillal. It is very convenient for those headed to Municipio San Francisco.
  • Libertador Station: We are talking about the largest station in the Metro of Maracaibo, which has four routes of the metro bus that reach its stops. The first route serves Padilla, Valle Frío and Cerros de Martín localitites, sharing various stops with the second line that departs at this station. The last route goes through Independencia, Santa Rosa de Agua sectors passing through the PDVAL and the Centro Comercial Sambil, to return at the Sanípez stop. The third route, called Curva Molina, passes through La Fusta, Mercado Perifico and De Candido sectors, connecting with the stops that direct themselves to El Varillal station. The fourth route serves Villa Inés, La Suiza, Rómulo Gallegos and La Barraca localitites.

Regulations

The Maracaibo Metro has a set of well-structured regulations especially useful for first-time riders needing solid information regarding whatever topic interests them. Next are the system norms.

Service-Use Norms
  • When transporting a large luggage or bags, you should avoid being an obstruction to passengers in the immediate vicinity.
  • Once you enter the Maracaibo train cars, if you bring a bag you will have to place it on the side of your torso, to avoid bothering other passengers.
  • If children surpass 4 years of age, the legal guardian will have to be present to buy the child a ticket to use the system trains, metro buses and stations.
  • You can’t bring your pet on the system trains and metro buses because it is prohibited to transport pets on the facilities. Although, it is possible to make an exception, only in the case of guide dogs that need to be by their owner’s side at all times; if that is not that case, animals will not be allowed.
  • You will notice blue-painted seats in the Metro of Maracaibo stations. These seats are set apart for senior citizens, pregnant women, and disabled people. For this reason, we recommend not using these seats, even when not being used by this groups of people. Likewise, the train cars have blue seats set apart for the aforementioned groups of people.

Security Norms

  • For your security and that of other passengers, you must remain at a prudent distance from the yellow line. In the situation that you don’t comply with this requirement, authorized personnel have the power give you a warning. You can only cross that line once the train has stopped.
  • Like many metro systems around the world, you can’t under any circumstance light a cigarette in the facilities and trains. Smoking is absolutely prohibited.
  • You can’t transport explosive material, like fireworks, on the trains of the Maracaibo Metro. Such actions will be penalized.
  • To guarantee your security in the stations, as well as other passengers, you will be removed from the system if you are drinking alcoholic drinks, or even entering the facilities inebriated. In the same manner, narcotics or illicit substances, are banned from the Metro of Maracaibo, with the possibility of being given a warning by police.
  • There are devices set up to warn passengers of possible threat. If you manipulate them to disturb others you will be given a warning by Maracaibo Metro security.
  • If an extraordinary situation presents itself, we recommend following instructions given by qualified metro personnel, with the goal of guaranteeing your security.
  • You can’t distract the machinist who operates the metro train and other operation personnel, for your security and that of other passengers. Such action warrants a warning, and even removal.
  • Avoid running in the train cars and system platforms of the Maracaibo Metro, as you could end up in the trains tracks, causing a tragedy, or you could accidentally push someone onto the train tracks.
  • Don’t block the closing of the train doors. Such action will be given a warning by security personnel of the Maracaibo Metro. Avoid it at all times.

Connection to the Airport

The Maracaibo Metro does not have a station that connects directly to the Aeropuerto Internacional de La Chinita, like other cities. Despite this, thanks to the complimentary service of the metro bus, passengers have one bus route available that links the airport terminal with the train system.

From the Center of the City to the Airport

If you take the metro to the center of Maracaibo, you should do it in the western direction toward the Altos de la Vanega station. Once you get to the platform, you will have to go to the ground floor because the metro is elevated. Once you do this you can ask a service operator where the metro bus stop headed to the airport is located. Any service person is capable helping you. Once you know which bus you need, board, and remember that the pass has a cost of 50 Bs compared to 6 bolivares for the metro ticket. The vehicle will transfer you to the Aeropuerto Internacional de La Chinita, leaving you just in front of the main entrance.

From the Airport to the Center of the City

If you are headed in the opposite direction, which would require that you transfer from the airport terminal to the center of the city using public transportation, you will have to take the following steps. Before leaving the airport, ask the security personnel where to board the metro bus, any of them can help you. Then, direct yourself to the stop, pay the respective 50 Bs and go to the Altos de La Vanega station. Before arriving at the final stop, you can change to another route of the metro bus by asking for advice from the conductor. They generally give good advice to get around the city. Even though we are talking about the most economical choice for you, consider traveling by taxi from the airport terminal, preferably though airport-authorized lines, for your security.

Future Extensions

In actuality, there are plans to expand the Maracaibo Metro, although they don’t have an opening date. Three stations would be added to line 1: La Padilla, Falcon and 5 de julio; completing a total of 9 commercial stops in this first journey. And although these construction works started a long time ago, the works have been very slow, without a clear end date. But there is speculation that it will be before 2019.

At the same time, authorities responsible for the metro also presented a proposal for line 2. On the other side of eight stations: Paraíso, Indio Mara, Universidad, Polideportivo, Galerías, Mercado Periférico, Panamericano y La Curva de Molina. The proposal took place in 2011, but the work hasn’t begun. When it is ready, they will add 9 extra km to the 8.1 of line 1, which will result in a total of 17 km between both routes.

Touristic Spots

When arriving to the Libertador station, visitors will be able to take a metro bus headed to the San Jacinto stop. Just in front of the station you will find the iconic cathedral of the city, the Basílica Nuestra Señora de Chiquinquirá. It is the church with greatest attendance in the whole state of Zulia, famous for receiving thousands of parishioners during holy week. During the month of December, it is customary to build life-size mangers, which are always colorful, for the locals and visitors. It is located in the smack center of the city, and is accessible to everyone. If you are not religious, appreciating the architecture of the site never hurts. It is an edification that honors the Virgen de Chiquinquirá, who is the patron of the Zulia territory. The structure includes three ships and two towers, a presbytery, a major altar and numerous niches where they worship other saints.

You will find the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Lía Bermúdez at station Libertador by taking the metro bus but this time toward the northwestern stop. From the beginning, it was thought of as the municipal market, without major touristic attraction, but after the participation by groups related to art, it became the cultural center of Maracaibo. Within the facilities, the paint and photography expositions are very common, along with theatre plays, musical spectacles and dance, and even projecting movies and documentaries for the public. It is thought of as a place for the gathering and fraternity for inhabitants.

There are also handicraft stores, with handicrafts made by aboriginal tribes like the Wayuu, that have immense historical importance. In case you require rest, the immediate vicinity has a café with regional candy. It is without a doubt a must-see spot for those who visit the metropolis for the first time. The options are varied, on occasion even free, especially on important state and national holidays. Be it as it may, you cannot stop going to an art gathering, with how beautiful and the sublime it is.

Metro map of Maracaibo

Metro map of Maracaibo Full resolution
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Maracaibo metro map

  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • 23US cents
  • Maracaibo Metro Official Website

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