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Mexican city buses
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-10-22 21:40:23 | Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Keywords: Buses, transit
As someone coming from a very organized society, one of the shock I had was with public transportation in Mexican cities. First, most of those services don't have a Web site to check out routes or schedules. Most of the time, there are no bus stops either! The behaviour aboard the bus is also different than what you'd expect... so it's a lot to grasp on for a newcomer.

So, there are no Web sites for the local transportation service... but you can manage to find the routes through other Web sites. Don't look for schedules, none exist. Not on the Internet, not on bus stops (when you find one), not on board the buses. Depending on the city and the route... the bus you're looking for might come every 5 minutes... or every hour.

Most bus lines are identified by a name and not a number. Also, they might not go from point A to point B and back... they might do a loop... so to catch the return bus... it could very well be on the next street rather than across from where you got off. In addition to the line name (IF indicated on the vehicle), you'll see on the windshield (and the side windows) the main stops or locations the bus is travelling to. That could be monuments, shopping centres or just street names.

To get on board the buses, you just stand along the route... and fly them as you would for a cab. In small streets, you can do that just about anywhere... including the middle of the block... although most people board them at street corners. The front door is usually always open, awaiting people to jump on (and providing fresh air to the passengers). On larger streets, there are usually areas with benches... which indicate that's a bus stop... although there are no signs... and that's where you should wait for the bus. When you board the bus, you give the money to the driver who in return gives you a piece of paper and your change. The piece of paper is a proof of payment... and sometimes a transfer (depending on the city, and the bus line). It's funny because that receipt can vary from one vehicle to another... you can take two buses along the same line and receive different proofs of payment.

To get off the bus... there are usually buttons to ring... or a pressure sensitive band along the ceiling, but no cords. The driver will then stop at the next opportunity... either at the street corner or in the middle of the block. You can also walk up front and ask the driver to drop you off at a specific point.

As you can see on the pictures, those are basically what we would call 'glorified school' in Canada and USA... they were upgraded and the seats are really for adults but I bet the rest of the bus is basically the same thing. Each vehicle seems to be assigned to or owned by a specific driver... since it's all customized with his name, his prayers, his decoration for the speed changing shift arm... and even the 'bank' or change rack varies from one vehicle to another.

Of course, the tariff is cheap... (6.50 pesos – about US$0.50 - in Mazatlan... 6 to 8 pesos in Los Mochis). These are the real local buses... with open windows as ventilation system. In some cities (like Mazatlan), there are also 'tourist' buses... which are basically inter-city buses with plush seats and cool air... deserving only one or two routes for the tourist needs. They cost about 10 pesos per passage.


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