|Generally, we can say that Mexicans do things much differently than we do in Canada and USA and comparing them would often be comparing apples with oranges. But there's one aspect of Mexican life that beats hands down whatever is done up North and it's inter-city bus transportation.|
Mexicans are the experts in bus transportation and offer a large
variety of classes, most of which make look their Northern twins
poorly. In the US and Canada I took many Greyhound buses that
wouldn't be allowed to run in Mexico!
We could begin by stating there are two major services. The
first one is mostly used by tourists while the other is mostly used
by locals. Each of those services is divided in three classes.
Generally, all tourist-class buses use the same bus terminal in a
city (see terminal above in Cancún). First, there's the standard first-class, then the luxury class
and the grand luxury class. Each level of course adds services
or comfort but they all include toilet and conditioned air.
These all use very modern buses which are very comfortable and
safe. They mostly do direct connection, going from point
A to point B in a few hours. There are sometimes very long
routes (16 hours or more) with many stops, including sometimes a meal
one (maximum 30 mins). When possible, they use the toll
highways, which are faster and more secure. For trips longer
than 3 or 4 hours, there's generally a second driver on board, who
can go underneath the bus for a nap in a special compartment in front
of the luggage areas. All tourist classes have registered luggage
service... so someone tags your luggage and place them under the bus,
giving you a redemption coupon.
Bed compartment in tourist classes buses for the second driver.
The different classes are not offered by all the classes but if
you can go from A to B in luxury classes, there's also a first-class
service doing the same route. Although mostly intended for tourists,
you will find normally about half of the passengers of first class
buses to be Mexicans because those buses do long trips, which
normally second class won't cover. You will virtually find none
in the luxury classes however.
For each class I list a few brands, but there are many all over
the country, I can't list them all. A good online resource to
find about the prices and schedules is TicketBus.com.mx.
Brands: OdeM, ADO, OCC, Estrella Roja
50-100 pesos per hour
Seats: Normally about 46, with plenty
of leg room even for me!
Services: Conditioned air, store
and curtains in tinted windows, one toilet, TV screens presenting
movies during the ride, with audio being broadcasted in the speakers.
Brands: OdeM Plus, ADO gl
Cost: about 75-120
pesos per hour 20% more than 1st class
about 44, more leg room because one row less
as first class plus snack and beverage bag as you get onboard.
There are two toilets: one for men, one for women. The audio
for the movie is available through headsets connectors, as long with
music channels. There's WiFi onboard. The passenger
section is closed from the driver area by a door.
Brands: ADO Platinum, ETN, Turistar
120-150 pesos per hour, 50% more than 1st class.
21 (7 rows of two and one seats), reclinable in horizontal
Services: same as luxury, plus beverage station
and service employee (bus attendant) and each seat has its Android
tablet for entertainment.
So, in comparison, the old white Greyhound buses wouldn't make
first class and the newer blue ones would barely with their WiFi, but
with cramped space.
The second-class bus I took from Villahermosa to Palenque.
The expression "second class" refers to both the
relatively new intermedio class and the real second class. They
often leave from the same second-class terminals. These are
usually different ones than first class ones, and the could be more
than one second-class terminal in a city, deserving different
companies. You will find almost no information online about
second class services, you have to ask locally.
Both services run trips no longer than 5 hours normally.
Considering they take mostly main roads and they stop everywhere,
that gives them a service distance around 300 km.
Contrary to the tourists classes who do go at the same
destinations, second-class routes are normally offered by only one
company, thus only one class. Your destination will decide if
it will be intermedio or second class, not you. There is no luggage
registration, and no one will handle them for you... so you place
them yourself under the bus and you take them out once at
Both classes (and the colectivo below) are really milk runs and
can be stopped at any point along the way, in addition to the bus
stop in every town and village it crosses. I've seen for
example a bus stopping at three consecutive street corners, to board
passengers, while we had just left the terminal 10 blocks before.
If you take one of those buses, you'll probably be the only gringo
Brands: ATS, Sur, TRT, TRV, Mayan, Oriente
about 30 pesos per hour
Seats: vary a lot depending on
bus model, but around 48, still pretty comfy for long legs, better
Services: conditioned air and window
curtains (no toilet, no entertainment)
Brands: usually none visible
Cost: about 20-25
pesos per hour
Seats: vary a lot depending on bus model,
usually tight space and old less comfy seats
windows and front door for ventilation and driver's radio for
Brands: none, white vans with destination printed on
Cost: about 40 pesos per hour
benches or individual seats for about 10 to 15, all facing forward,
as opposed to the city colectivos which have benches along their
The colectivos usually cover a range of 50 to 75 km, deserving
busy sites or small communities off the path of the second class
buses. You usually board them on a street corner where their
stand is... And pay as you get out. The locals also refer to the
inter-city colectivos as taxis.
A colectivo doing a run to a nearby town from Merida.