The Joy of Mexican Transport

Oh how I wish America could learn from Mexico about transportation. Every pueblito is serviced by buses perhaps not every ten minutes but always served all day by anything from a “chicken bus,” an old schoolbus wherein one usually finds a sacks of live chickens on their way to becoming dinner. But chicken buses are by no means the norm; indeed they are merely one step below the filthy Greyhound that charges 100 times the price per mile than any Mexican bus, first to third class. Second class buses have reclining velvet covered seats, no bathroom and varying degrees of cleanliness, although they are fast, on time and about the level of a good Greyhound.

First class buses, however, are like nothing known in America. The bus stations first of all resemble high end airport terminals—marble, glass, exposed beams a la the Pompiodou Center in Paris, all manner of restaurants and services available, and private waiting rooms for each bus line. A first class trip is signalled by two uniformed greeters, lovely young girls in pressed white collars and suits who welcome you on board and give you a sack of beverage, sandwich and cookies—what airline in the USA is this generous these days? But any Primera Plus trip longer than two hours will for sure give you lunch. Meanwhile one uniformed man takes and checks your baggage and another drives the Mercedes bus you are about to board. Seats are spaced well apart and have risers for your feet, reclining seats with fresh napkins at your head, cup holders, A/C controls, velvet curtains and tinted shades to control the sun. Every bus has a bathroom that is clean, has soap, towels and tp and in its anteroom there is hot and cold water, tea and coffee sugar and creamer perpetually available. This first class service charges, for example for a 5 hour trip $13-26 USD or to popular beach towns 4-5 hours/ $34 USD—amazing. And should you want ultra first class for a long trip, say for 7 hours, you can take an UNO wherein your seats fully recline, and are furnished with sheets. Would that we in the States could travel this way on a bus. On Primera Plus I am comfortable; there are good movies on the screen and I arrive refreshed even on an all nighter.. When I arrive I can then taxi—perhaps 20 minute ride for $2-3 to a hostel—four to a room with hot water $10/night and located a couple of blocks from the nicest parts of the centros historicos of cities like Morelia or Queretaro or even Mexico City (for $18 in the Zona Rosa-posh district, safe, clean, central)

August 2006






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