In comparing public transportation between the United States and Mexico, the third world-first world dichotomy is thrown on its ear. For example, bus transportation in the U.S. is expensive and routes are ridiculously limited. Consequently, bus travel in the U.S. is time consuming and inconvenient. Mexico’s buses, on long routes, make no stops. Getting you there almost as fast as driving yourself.
Mexico’s buses on long routes are luxuriously appointed with seats that allow you to lean back and comfortably sleep. These luxury vehicles have toilets on board and en route movies. The last bus trip I took from Autlan Jalisco to Guadalajara (4 hours), they served us soft drinks and you could hear the movie on bose like headphones. Not those uncomfortable, in the ear, headphones. The cost for this 150 mile trip was eighteen dollars. Much cheaper than the gas I would consume in my automobile.
My most frequent bus trips are from my home in Ensenada, Baja California to the border crossing into San Diego County. From my home to the bus terminal I can take a micro bus, ten to twenty passengers. The cost is less than a dollar. And, these micro buses come by every five minutes or so. I have never waited more than ten minutes. There are also “taxis de ruta”. Cabs that pick up passengers traveling the same route and are also less than a dollar. What an amazing concept. Instead of passengers who don’t know each other sharing a cab-the cabbies do it for you. I usually take a “radio cab” that picks me up at my home and delivers me to the bus station for $5.50. The same cab ride (eight miles) in the states would cost $15 – $20.00.
Greyhound buses are expensive and uncomfortable. My Mexican bus ride to the border is in luxury: reclining seats, toilet and a movie during the two hour trip. I could make it in one hour and a half hours in my automobile but would spend $60.00 for gas and $15.00 in highway tolls. My round trip bus ticket is $22.00, but with a senior discount card, the cost is $12.00. Can’t beat it. Often, I just go to Tijuana on business, without crossing the border. It is cheaper for me to take the bus and then cabs to whatever destinations in Tijuana. I don’t have to fight the traffic and have never spent more than ten dollars for a day of cab rides. And, I avoid getting lost. Something I’m proficient at.
If I continue my trip into downtown San Diego or the airport, I can walk across the border in half the time it takes to cross in an automobile. Actually, I cross without waiting in line when I show the credential I carry indicating I have bi lateral titanium hips. Upon crossing the border, I board the very efficient San Diego trolley. I can ride the trolley to the train station for $1.25 (senior fare) and the shuttle to the airport arrives every ten minutes. On occasion I must travel to Los Angeles on business. The Amtrak from San Diego and return is $55.00 for seniors.
The reasons for public transportation being so convenient and inexpensive in Mexico is because there are fewer restrictions on folks operating a micro bus or taxi, especially a “taxi de ruta”. And, Permits, insurance, maintenance are much less expensive in Mexico when compared to the United States. In Mexico public transportation is efficient, comfortable, convenient and inexpensive – First World. In the U.S., public transportation is uncomfortable, expensive and inconvenient – Third World by my criteria. So if you fear driving into Mexico. Do what hip ex patriots do: take buses and taxis.
Also, I want to put a plug in for Volaris Airlines with routes throughout Mexico. If you book a couple months in advance you can get incredible deals. My wife and I are flying to Puerta Vallarta and back to Tijuana for $80.00 each round trip. Volaris has great service, free alcoholic beverages and friendly attendants. Flights to most major Mexican cities from Tijuana and now the San Francisco bay area and Chicago.