The streets of Quito swarm with taxis -- my preferred means of transport here. Taxis are cheap, costing only $1 to $3 (65p-£2) for a ride within the Old or New Town and $4 to $6 (£2.65-£4) for longer distances. Drivers are required by law to use a meter, but it's obviously not a strict law because few taxis use them. If the taxi has a meter (taxímetro), insist that the driver use it. Alternatively, ask your hotel desk or a trusty local what your ride should cost and negotiate an appropriate price beforehand. Quito can be dangerous at night, so it's best to take a taxi wherever you go, no matter how short the distance. The staff at most restaurants, hotels, and bars will be happy to call a cab for you. In case you need to call one yourself, try City Taxi (tel. 02/2633-333), Taxi Amigo (tel. 02/2222-222), or Taxi Express (tel. 02/2500-600).
Three electric trolley lines run north-south through Quito, connecting Old Town with New Town. In New Town, the Trole runs along Avenida 10 de Agosto, which is a few blocks west of Avenida Amazonas. When it reaches Old Town, it travels along Avenida Guayaquil. To reach Plaza de la Independencia, be sure to get off at the Plaza Grande stop. The Ecovía is much more convenient if you want to start your journey in New Town; it runs along Avenida 6 de Diciembre, one of the major streets. Unfortunately, when it reaches Old Town, it stops several blocks east of the colonial core, and it's a bit of an uphill hike to the heart of the action. If you want to avoid this hike, transfer to the Trole at the Simón Bolívar stop. Metrobus is the third line, and it runs along the western edge of town, along Avenida América. All three of these trolley lines cost 25¢ (15p) for a one-way trip. The turnstiles accept only exact change, but fortunately all stations have change machines. Trolleys run from around 5am until midnight. Warning: Pickpockets frequently operate on crowded trolleys and buses, so be careful.
Quito has an extensive and very complicated system of city buses. In New Town, buses run along Avenida Amazonas and Avenida 12 de Octubre. If you're only going a short distance along these streets, it's easy to hop on a bus (just flag it down). But beware: Once you pass Avenida Colón, the buses go off in many convoluted directions. Short rides cost 25¢ (15p). Overall, it's much easier to travel through Quito by taxi, which is inexpensive and safe, and will take you exactly where you need to go.
Besides walking around specific and compact neighborhoods or circuits, such as Old Town or the Mariscal section of New Town, Quito is not a friendly city for walkers. Most of the streets are in a state of near-constant gridlock; sidewalks are narrow and irregular; and car and bus fumes, along with street crime, are real problems. Luckily, taxis are plentiful and very inexpensive.
I highly discourage you from renting a car to get around Quito. Navigating a strange city is difficult enough, and many of Quito's streets are narrow and in a nearly constant state of gridlock. Moreover, taxis are plentiful and inexpensive.
If you're set on renting a car in Quito, Budget (tel. 02/3300-979; www.budget-ec.com) and Hertz (tel. 02/2254-257; www.hertz.com) have offices downtown and at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport; cars can also be delivered to most hotels in Quito. Car rentals will run you $25 to $90 (£15-£60) per day, depending on the type of vehicle.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.