Busing the Bay: Second First Impressions on Public Transportation Vallarta

I was wrong! Something my wife claims she does not often hear. I start with an apology. In my last column, I stated that only the new A/C buses had the extra slide out front step. Turns out some of the non A/C buses have them and some of the A/C buses do not.

Is there a reason, other than it’s Mexico?

What route do I take?

Vallarta is a big city with an extensive network of public bus routes that all seem to go downtown.

I am working my way through an abundance of online information but have not yet discovered an article that makes it easy to understand which bus and route to take.

If you are near the hotel strip and going to the Malecon, or Old Town, hop on any bus that displays “Centro” on the window.

Is This My Bus?

Buses in Vallarta currently identify their routes by printing their destinations on front and side windows as well as having their route name and number prominently displayed.  Some of the new buses have destinations on the windows but unfortunately no route numbers. I find it easier telling friends to catch an “R12” bus rather than an “Aurora Portales” bus. Newer buses have scrolling digital lights on the top with their route name but again, no route number.

It will be interesting to see how tourists react to catching their bus without the “destinations”, Walmart, Sams, and Hotels on the windows or if all the new buses will put the midpoint destinations on the windows. At this time I can accurately state that some new buses have destinations on the windows and others do not. Some painted destination signs have faded and others have not.

Is there a reason, other than it’s Mexico?

Where do I get off?

Assuming there is a view to the windows, keep glancing out the window for your destination. However, now on some of the new, nonA/C buses they have a speaker system that announces your stop. Unfortunately, there must be a universal guideline on PA system announcements. It sounds very garbled, but I think the announcements are in Spanish. I was hoping to recognize and learn the correct pronunciation of the various stops. To date I recognize “SAMS”. Some non A/C buses also have a working display screen that lists all the stops. I have only seen it twice.

  Ask anyone where to get off. From the driver to the passengers, everyone seems willing to help. On a couple of occasions, we have been on a late night bus when other passengers have asked us where we were going. Once we confirmed we were on the correct bus, off they went with the appropriate “gracias, adios”.

Is there a reason, other than it’s Mexico?

Lessons Learned/Observed:

I have been impressed with how well locals have adapted to “exact change”; how will tourists respond?

I will miss seeing some of the older buses at night that are all “pimped-out” with lights and flags matching the colors of their bus. The new buses seem very sterile and dull.

It is wonderful to watch the way people give up their seats to elders, mothers, disabled.

Be prepared for on board performers. This week I was entertained by a rap duo, a blind harmonica player, and several guitar players.

As euphoric as it is to get an A/C bus, it can be equally despairing when you are on a non A/C bus -leading to a ‘life’s not fair’ moment.

Bruce Howells on Email
Bruce Howells
Bruce es un canadiense jubilado, que junto con su esposa Velma, tomó una "mulligan" en la vida y escapó del frío de Canadá y se instaló en Vallartazona. Cumpliendo un retirosueño de no conducir más, Bruce utilizará transportatio públicon para recorrer la bahía y contar sus historias aquí. Consejos e itinerarios bienvenidos. Correo electrónico: busbanderasbay

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