Transport in Cuba

Last updated

Transportation in Cuba is the system of railways, roads, airports, waterways, ports and harbours in Cuba:



Railway network in Cuba Ferrocarriles de cuba map.gif
Railway network in Cuba
Hershey Electric Railway Hershey Electric Railway.JPG
Hershey Electric Railway

Cuba built the first railway system in the Spanish empire, before the 1848 start in the Iberian peninsula. While the rail infrastructure dates from colonial and early republican times, passenger service along the principal Havana to Santiago corridor is increasingly reliable and popular with tourists who can purchase tickets in Cuban convertible pesos. As with most public transport in Cuba, many of the vehicles used are second hand.

With the order of 12 new Chinese locomotives in 2006, built specifically for Cuban Railways at China Northern Locomotives and Rolling Stock Works, services have been improving in reliability[ citation needed ]. Those benefiting the most are long-distance freight services with the French train Havana-Santiago being the only passenger train using one of the new Chinese locomotives regularly.

In 2019, the Cuban railways received the first delivery of new Chinese-built coaches, and new services with these began in July 2019. [2] [3]

Streetcar in Havana Havana tram surf.jpg
Streetcar in Havana

Metro systems are not present in the island, although a suburban rail network exists in Havana. [4] Urban tramways were in operation between 1858 and 1954, initially as horse-drawn systems. In the early 20th century electric trolley or storage battery powered tramways were introduced in seven cities. Of these overhead wire systems were adopted in Havana, Guanabacoa, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. [5]


Via Blanca highway near Matanzas Via Blanca-Matanzas.JPG
Via Blanca highway near Matanzas

The total length of Cuba's highways is 60,858 km, including

Expressways (autopistas) include:

Older roads include the Carretera Central, and the Via Blanca from Havana to Matanzas.

Long-distance and inter-municipality buses in Cuba

Private owned truck-bus ("Camion") Ford in 2014 Cuba Ford Camion 2014.jpg
Private owned truck-bus ("Camion") Ford in 2014

There are several national bus companies in Cuba. Viazul operates a fleet of modern and comfortable coaches on longer distance routes designed principally for tourists. Schedules, prices, and ticket booking can be done online, at any of the major international airports or National Terminals across Cuba. There are also other bus lines operated by tourism companies.

AstroBus, a bus service in Cuban National Pesos, designed to bring comfortable air-conditioned coaches to Cuban locals at an affordable price. The AstroBus lines operate with modern Chinese Yutong buses, and are accessible to Cuban Residents of Cuba with their ID Card, and is payable in Cuba Pesos. Routes that have benefited most so far are those from Havana to each of the 13 provincial capitals of the country.

Urban buses

Camel bus in Havana Camel bus in Havana.jpg
Camel bus in Havana
A Yutong bus in Havana Autobushabana.jpg
A Yutong bus in Havana
A decommissioned bus from Seville, now operating in Havana Autobus de TUSSAM en La Habana.jpg
A decommissioned bus from Seville, now operating in Havana

In Havana, urban transportation used to be provided by a colorful selection of buses imported from the Soviet Union or Canada. Many of these vehicles were second hand, such as the 1500 decommissioned Dutch buses that the Netherlands donated to Cuba in the mid-1990s as well as GM fishbowl buses from Montreal. Despite the United States trade embargo, American-style yellow school buses (imported second-hand from Canada) are also increasingly common sights. Since 2008, service on seven key lines in and out of the city is provided by Chinese Zhengzhou Yutong Buses. These replaced the famous camellos ("camels" or "dromedaries", after their "humps") trailer buses that hauled as many as two hundred passengers in a passenger-carrying trailer.

After the upgrading of Seville's public bus fleet to CNG-powered vehicles, many of the decommissioned ones were donated to the city of Havana. These bright orange buses still display the name of Transportes Urbanos de Sevilla, S.A.M., their former owner, and Seville's coat of arms as a sign of gratitude. [7] Seville

In recent years (2016), urban transport in Havana consists entirely of modern Yutong diesel buses. Seville and Ikarus buses are gone.[ citation needed ]


A Cuban Pontiac car in 2011. Cuban car.JPG
A Cuban Pontiac car in 2011.

Since 2009, Cuba has imported sedans from Chinese automaker Geely to serve as police cars, taxis and rental vehicles. [8] Previously, the Soviet Union supplied Volgas, Moskvichs, and Ladas, as well as heavy trucks like the ZIL and the KrAZ; [9] and Cuba also bought cars from European and Asian companies. In 2004, it was estimated that there were some 173,000 cars in Cuba. [10]

Old American cars in Cuba

Most new vehicles came to Cuba from the United States until the 1960 United States embargo against Cuba ended importation of both cars and their parts. As many as 60,000 American vehicles are in use, [11] nearly all in private hands. Of Cuba's vintage American cars, many have been modified with newer engines, disc brakes and other parts, often scavenged from Soviet cars, and most bear the marks of decades of use. [12] Pre-1960 vehicles remain the property of their original owners and descendants, and can be sold to other Cubans providing the proper traspaso certificate is in place.

However, the old American cars on the road today have "relatively high inefficiencies" due in large part to the lack of modern technology. [13] This resulted in increased fuel consumption as well as adding to the economic plight of their owners. With these inefficiencies, noticeable drop in travel occurred from an "average of nearly 3000 km/year in the mid-1980s to less than 800 km/year in 2000–2001". [14] As the Cuban people try to save as much money as possible, when traveling is done, the cars are usually loaded past the maximum allowable weight and travel on the decaying roads, resulting in even more abuse to the already under-maintained vehicles. [15]

Hitchhiking and carpooling

Official hitchhiking and carpooling point, Santiago de Cuba. The man in the yellow uniform stops a state-owned car to take passengers for a small fee Cuba, official hitchhiking and carpooling point.jpg
Official hitchhiking and carpooling point, Santiago de Cuba. The man in the yellow uniform stops a state-owned car to take passengers for a small fee

As a result of the "Special Period" in 1991 (a period of food and energy shortages caused by the loss of the Soviet Union as a trading partner), hitchhiking and carpooling became important parts of Cuba's transportation system and society in general. In 1999, an article in Time magazine claimed "In Cuba[...] hitchhiking is custom. Hitchhiking is essential. Hitchhiking is what makes Cuba move." [16]

Changes in the 2000s

For many years, Cubans could only acquire new cars with special permission.

In 2011, the Cuban government legalized the purchase and sale of used post-1959 autos. In December 2013, Cubans were allowed to buy new cars from state-run dealerships - previously this had not been permitted. [17] [18]

In 2020, this was further extended with cars being sold in convertible currencies. [19]


Ports and harbors

Merchant marine

Total: 3 ships

Ships by type

Registered in other countries: 5


Besides the state owned airline Cubana (Cubana de Aviación), the two other major Cuban airlines are Aero Caribbean and Aerogaviota, both of whom operate modern European and Russian aircraft. One other airline is Aerotaxi.


Airports with paved runways

Airports with unpaved runways

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Chile

Transport in Chile is mostly by road. The far south of the country is not directly connected to central Chile by road, and water transport also plays a part there. The railways were historically important in Chile, but now play a relatively small part in the country's transport system. Because of the country's geography and long distances between major cities, aviation is also important.

Transport in the Dominican Republic

Transport in the Dominican Republic utilizes a system of roads, airports, ports, harbours, and an urban railway.

Transport in Russia Overview of the transport in Russia

The transport network of the Russian Federation is one of the world's most extensive transport networks. The national web of roads, railways and airways stretches almost 7,700 km (4,800 mi) from Kaliningrad in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east, and major cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg are served by extensive rapid transit systems.

Transport in Spain Overview of the transport in Spain

Transport in Spain is characterised by an extensive network of roads, railways, rapid transit, air routes, and ports. Its geographic location makes it an important link between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Major forms of transit generally radiate from the capital, Madrid, located in the centre of the country, to link with the capitals of the autonomous communities.

Transport in Venezuela revolves around a system of highways and airports. Venezuela is connected to the world primarily via air and sea. In the south and east the Amazon rainforest region has limited cross-border transport; in the west, there is a mountainous border of over 1,375 miles (2,213 km) shared with Colombia. The Orinoco River is navigable by oceangoing vessels up to 400 km inland, and connects the major industrial city of Ciudad Guayana to the Atlantic Ocean.

Havana Capital of Cuba

Havana is the capital and largest city of Cuba. The heart of the La Habana province, Havana is the country's main port and leading commercial center. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

José Martí International Airport Cuban airport serving Havana located in Boyeros

José Martí International Airport, sometimes known by its former name Rancho Boyeros Airport, is an international airport located 20 km (12 mi) southwest of the centre of Havana, Cuba, and is a hub for Cubana de Aviación and Aerogaviota, and former Latin American hub for the Soviet airline Aeroflot. It is Cuba's main international and domestic gateway, and serves several million passengers each year. The airport is operated by Empresa Cubana de Aeropuertos y Servicios Aeronáuticos (ECASA).

Matanzas Municipality in Cuba

Matanzas is the capital of the Cuban province of Matanzas. Known for its poets, culture, and Afro-Cuban folklore, it is located on the northern shore of the island of Cuba, on the Bay of Matanzas, 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of the capital Havana and 32 kilometres (20 mi) west of the resort town of Varadero.


Yutong is a Chinese manufacturer of commercial vehicles, especially electric buses, headquartered in Zhengzhou, Henan. Yutong also covers areas of construction machinery, real estate, and other investment businesses. As of 2016 it was the largest bus manufacturer in the world by sales volume.

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral is one of eleven Catholic cathedrals on the island. It is located in the Plaza de la Catedral on Calle Empedrado, between San Ignacio y Mercaderes, Old Havana. The thirty by forty-nine meters rectangular church serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Cristobal de la Habana. Christopher Columbus’ remains were kept in the cathedral between 1796 and 1898 before they were taken to Seville Cathedral.

Vía Blanca Highway in Cuba

Vía Blanca is a highway in northern Cuba, connecting the capital city of Havana and the city of Matanzas. A second section extends eastwards from Matanzas to the tourist town of Varadero and to Cárdenas. Even if it is a motorway (autopista), it is part of the national highway named "Circuito Norte" (CN).

Ferrocarriles de Cuba

Ferrocarriles de Cuba (FCC) or Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Cuba, provides passenger and freight services for Cuba.

Outline of Cuba Overview of and topical guide to Cuba

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Cuba:

Hershey Electric Railway

The Hershey Electric Railway, also known as the Hershey Railway, is a standard-gauge electric interurban railway that runs from Casablanca, Havana, to the city of Matanzas, approximately 92 kilometres (57 mi) to the east. There are a number of intermediate halts and a station and depot at the town of Camilo Cienfuegos, better known by its pre-revolutionary name of Hershey. The railway is the only surviving electric line in Cuba. The railway was built by The Hershey Company to transport sugar to the port of Havana. The original electric interurban cars were bought from the JG Brill Company, but these were replaced by 60-year old cars from the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya in the 1990s.

Havana Central railway station

Havana Central is the main railway terminal in Havana and the largest railway station in Cuba, is the hub of the rail system in the country. It serves for the arrival and departure of national and divisional commuter trains, and is home to the national railway company, Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Cuba (FFCC), the only intercity passenger rail transport operating in the Caribbean.

Havana Suburban Railway

The Havana Suburban Railway is a passenger rail network serving the city of Havana, capital of Cuba, and its suburbs. Owned by the national company Ferrocarriles de Cuba, it represents the only suburban rail system of the Caribbean island.

Havana MetroBus

The Havana MetroBus, shortened as MB, is a public bus network serving the city of Havana, capital of Cuba. It is the principal public transport network of Cuban capital and is conceived as a surface subway.

Roads in Cuba Highway system in Cuba

The road network of Cuba consists of 60,858 km (37,815 mi) of roads, of which over 29,850 km (18,550 mi) are paved and 31,038 km (19,286 mi) are unpaved. The Caribbean country counts also 654 km (406 mi) of motorways (autopistas).

Autopista A1 (Cuba) Motorway in Cuba

The Autopista A1, also known as Autopista Nacional, is a Cuban motorway, partly built, that will link Havana to Guantánamo. It is a toll-free road and its total length will be of about 900 km (560 mi). Along with the Autopista A4, linking Havana to Pinar del Río, it is classified as part of the whole Autopista Nacional route, spanning the length of the island; as the Carretera Central highway.

Autopista A3 (Cuba) Motorway in Cuba

The Autopista A3, also known as Autopista Havana-Melena, is a Cuban motorway linking Havana to Melena del Sur. It is a toll-free road and has a length of 32 km (20 mi).


  1. (2003)
  2. "Cuba takes first step in railways upgrade with Chinese, Russian help". Reuters. July 13, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  3. "New trains will start operating in Cuba with lower prices than for buses". OnCubaNews. July 9, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  4. See: es:Red del ferrocarril suburbano de La Habana and File:Esquema ferrocarril habana.png
  5. "The tramways of Cuba" by Allen Morrison: Infos, maps, pictures.
  6. Source: Mapa de Carreteras de Cuba (Road map of Cuba, including the roads officially classified as Autopistas). Ediciones GEO, Havana 2011 - ISBN   959-7049-21-X
  7. The last lot was delivered in 2006: "Entrega de 16 autobuses de TUSSAM a la Habana como gesto solidario" Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine , nota de prensa del Ayuntamiento de Sevilla
  10. 16. Marcus Enoch, et al. "The Effect of Economic Restrictions on Transport Practices in Cuba". Transport Policy 11 (2004): 70.
  11. Schweid, Richard (2004). Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile : on the road in Cuba ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 9. ISBN   978-0807828922.
  12. Schweid, Richard. Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile (On the Road in Cuba). Chapel Hill, London. University of North Carolina Press, 2004. ISBN   0-8078-2892-0 p.196
  13. 12. James P. Warren, Marcus P. Enoch, "Mobility, energy, and emissions in Cuba and Florida". Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 11 (2006): 35.
  14. 13. Warren and Enoch, "Mobility, energy, and emissions in Cuba and Florida", 35.
  15. 14. Warren and Enoch, "Mobility, energy, and emissions in Cuba and Florida", 35.