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Bus Travel — México


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Contents

Notes


For most Méxicans, their only means of affordable transportation is by bus. This has created a huge demand for local and long-distance bus service throughout the country. In recent years, the Méxican government has responded by investing heavily in the highway infrastructure. Alongside this public investment, an extensive network of professionally run private bus companies has sprung up, servicing almost everywhere in the country, even the smallest, most remote, villages. And bus service in México, for the most part, is efficient, safe, comfortable, and cheap.

In most cities and towns of any size, there is a main bus station — usually referred to as Central Camionera, Central de Autobuses, or Terminal de Autobuses — that serves multiple long-distance bus companies. Do not confuse buses labeled Centro (which refers to a city's downtown area) with Central (which refers to a city's main bus station). In villages and towns that are not large enough to have a central bus station, companies have their own offices or stops where their buses arrive and depart from.

There are three classes of bus service:

Ejecutivo (executive) buses, sometimes called de lujo (deluxe), serve mostly busy long-distance routes. For a premium, passengers get comfortable spacious seats, direct service with few or no stops, dependable buses with a solid suspension system, refreshments, on-board toilets, movies, occasionally waitress service, and sometimes too-frigid A/C (be sure to bring a sweater just in case). But most importantly, often, they are not full and this could mean even more space to stretch out and sleep, especially on long overnight trips.


Primera Clase (first-class) buses also serve mostly busy long-distance routes with services similar to executive class. The main differences are the seating is less spacious — on long overnight trips, this difference could be critical — and the amenities, overall, are less generous. Any town or city of any size will have first-class bus service.


Segunda Clase (second-class) buses mostly serve small towns and villages. (Often, they're the only service available in those places.) They also serve many of the same routes as executive and first-class; however, because of frequent stops and no amenities, they're never as fast or as comfortable.


There are two types of second-class buses:

Directas (direct) buses stop only at designated stations and bus stops. The number of stops, however, can be many.


Ordinarios (regular) buses stop anywhere along a route a passenger wants to get off or hails the bus from the side of the road.


There are numerous second-class operators in México. In general, they tend to be smaller in size and service a narrower region than executive and first-class. Because there are so many operators, predictably, the level of safety and service among them is not consistent. Many operators run well-maintained buses with professional drivers, while others operate poorly maintained buses with unprofessional drivers. In addition, to get to faraway villages, second-class buses often travel along remote stretches of highway, making them more prone to highway robbery, although this is rare. (See Safety below.)

Executive and first-class buses offer, for the most part, premium service to distant destinations inside and outside of the state, delivering their passengers, with a minimum of stops, as quickly and comfortably as possible, while second-class buses are mostly focused on providing maximum coverage along a local or regional route, stopping and starting whenever a passenger wants to board or disembark. Except for the most frugal of travelers, if there is a choice between first and second class, always choose first. Nevertheless, if not feeling rushed, traveling second-class is great way to experience the everyday life of Oaxaca and to view the landscape, especially on shorter trips. For more on this, read the article "Why travel?."

Purchasing Tickets


Many executive and first-class bus companies now offer tickets online. (See the list of regional bus companies with links to their websites.) Most websites have detailed schedule and pricing information and some even allow purchasers to choose a seat. For those not comfortable with purchasing online, tickets can still be bought at bus stations or at bus companies' offices. In larger cities and popular locations, there are often alternative ticket offices located in the Centro or some other convenient place.

For second-class buses, when passengers board at the station or the bus company office, tickets are usually purchased there before loading. When passengers board at a bus stop or hail the bus, tickets are purchased from the driver or conductor.

Furthermore, tickets usually can only be purchased and issued at the station of departure and not for the next bus if connecting through.

For shorter trips (say, less than half a day) on busy routes, it is often possible to just go to the bus station, purchase a ticket, and be on your way. For longer trips, always purchase tickets at least one day in advance. This is especially true for weekends and holidays.

Most bus companies will refund in partial or in full the price of a ticket if it is paid for in cash and returned in time, usually an hour or more before departure.

A bus listed as local originates from the station, while a bus listed as de paso originates from somewhere else and passes through that station. Seating on a de paso bus, therefore, cannot be guaranteed, so tickets cannot be bought in advanced. When de paso buses pass through, they do not linger at the station, and any empty seats go quickly. It is best to go to the station early and ask when these tickets go on sale.

In southern and central México, executive and first-class tickets for several bus lines can be conveniently purchased online or over the phone through Ticket Bus (www.ticketbus.com.mx, 01 (800) 702-8000, or (55) 5133-2424 in México City).

Costs


Ticket prices vary, but expect to pay between Mex$70-100 for every 60mi/100km of first-class travel. For executive, expect to pay between 10% to 50% more, depending on the amenities. And for second-class, expect to pay 15% to 25% less than first-class.

Regional Bus Companies


Some bus lines are actually part of a group, which share ticket booths and personnel at bus stations. Often, a bus line specializes in providing specific level of service — ejectivio, primera clase, or segundo clase — or covering a geographical region. Examples of groups are ADO (ADO, ADO GL, OCC, and UNO bus lines) and Grupo Estrella Blanca (Autobuses Americanos, Autobuses Estrella Blanca, Élite, Futura, Futura Plus, Norte de Sonora, Oriente, Pacifico, Papel Tapiz, Transportes Chihuahuenses, and Transportes Frontera bus lines).

ABC www.abc.com.mx 800-025-0222 Baja California, northwest Sonora
Autobuses Americanos www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
Autobuses Estrella Blanca www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500 Cuernavaca, Hermosillo, northern central highlands, Pacific coast
Autotransportes del Oriente (ADO, ADO GL) www.ado.com.mx 800-702-8000 Chiapas, Gulf coast, México City, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Yucatán
Autotransportes Aguila 612-122-4270 Southern Baja California
Autovias www.hdp.com.mx 800-622-2222 México City, Michoacan, San Miguel de Allende
Élite www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500 México City, northwest, Pacific coast, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi
Estrella de Oro www.estrelladeoro.com.mx 55-5689-3955 Gulf coast, México City, Oaxaca, central Pacific Coast
Estrella Roja www.estrellaroja.com.mx 800-712-2284 México City, Puebla
ETN www.etn.com.mx 800-800-0386 northern & western central highlands, Manzanillo, México City, Northeast, Puerto Vallarta
Futura www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500 Guadalajara, México City, Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, northern central highlands, Pacific coast, Taxco
Futura Plus www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
Grupo Pullman de Morelos www.pullman.com.mx 55-5549-3505 Cuernavaca, México City
Herradura de Plata www.hdp.com.mx 800-622-2222 northern & western central highlands
Norte de Sonora www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
OCC (Omnibus Cristobal Colon) www.ado.com.mx 800-702-8000 Chiapas, México City, Oaxaca, Puebla
Omnibus de México www.odm.com.mx 800-765-6636 Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Colima, Durango, Guadalajara, México City, Monterrey, northern central highlands, Saltillo, Torreon
Oriente www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500 México City, northeast, San Luis Potosi
Pacifico www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
Papel Tapiz www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
Primera Plus www.primeraplus.com.mx 800-375-7587 Manzanillo, México City, Morelia, northern & western central highlands, Puerto Vallarta
Transpais www.transpais.com.mx 800-713-1000 Gulf coast, northeast
Transportes Chihuahuenses www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500 Chihuahua, Los Mochis, México City, Zacatecas
Transportes del Frontera www.estrellablanca.com.mx 800-507-5500
Transportes y Autobuses del Pacífico (TAP) www.tap.com.mx 800-002-2827 México City, central Pacific coast, northwest
Turistar turistar.com.mx 800-800-0386
UNO www.ado.com.mx 800-702-8000 Chiapas, México City, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz



Safety


Traveling by bus in México is generally safe, though this hasn't always been the case. In the past, buses had a well-deserved reputation for being mechanically unsound, and drivers were known for driving recklessly. Recently, the government has begun to regulate the bus companies more closely, and their overall safety record has improved considerably.

The biggest risk in traveling by bus comes from being ripped off by pickpockets at bus stations. Pickpockets, often operating in groups, like to work among the chaos of the crowds, always looking for an easy mark. A foreign traveler who is flustered, bumbling about with his luggage is a magnet for pickpockets. Projecting a confident airs—even when you're not feeling particularly confident—signals that you are not to be taken advantage of. The less you look like an easy mark, the less likely you are to be targeted. Keeping this in mind and following these easy rules will lessen your risk of being a target of theft:

Always keep your bags and purses in front of you, never to your side or behind you. And it goes without saying that you should never, ever, leave your bags unattended.


Most bus stations have a luggage storage area, called a guardería, consigna, or equipaje, where bags can be checked. Expect to pay around Mex$50-100 per day per item. They're usually not open 24/7, so be sure to check their hours. Sometimes smaller bus stations and bus company offices (where buses drop-off and pickup passengers) do not have formal storage areas. In these cases, bus company staff can sometimes be persuaded to look after luggage for short periods of time.


Luggage is generally safe on buses, whether stored in overhead bins or checked. Still, it's best to separate valuables and easily replaceable items into different bags. In a small carry-on bag put all valuables—such as money, passport, and camera—which should be kept on your person or within arms reach, not in an unoccupied seat in front or behind you, at all times. Otherwise, a patient thief will wait until you become distracted or dose off and then rifle through it. In another larger bag put easily replaceable items—such as clothes, extra shoes, toiletries—to be checked or stored in overhead bins. Keep in mind, just because a bag fit in an overhead bin on the flight down, doesn't mean it's going to on a bus. If there's any question about whether a bag is too large, go a head and check it. Moreover, be sure to label every bag and, if checked, get receipts. Also, it's prudent to watch checked bags go in a bus' storage area and to make sure they're not inadvertently removed during stops along the way. If, after having taken all these precautions, your checked bags are missing, as long as you've held on to your receipts, the chances of recovery are good. Generally, bus line and bus station workers are trustworthy and will conscientiously try to find your bags. Once your luggage is found, be sure to tip whoever was responsible.


Representatives of hotels will sometimes accost travelers arriving at bus stations and claim theirs is the only place available with vacancies. Don't believe it and steer clear of them.


Although rare, buses are sometimes targeted by robbers at night on remote stretches of highways. Taking the bus during the day, especially along highways with known problems, will significantly reduce the risk of being robbed. Highway robbers tend to not target vehicles on major toll roads and expressways. Because first-class buses usually take these routes, they are less susceptible to being robbed than second-class buses, which usually take less direct, more remote, routes.



For more information, including a list of highways with known problems with robbery, read the article "Safety."

Tips


  • Regardless of the class, try to avoid the far back of the bus—it's always going to be a bouncier ride.


  • On overnight trips, stick to the right side of the bus. The glare from oncoming traffic is less, making sleeping easier.


On long trips, carry food, drinks, and toilet paper. Station food may be dubious and the sanitary facilities ill-maintained.

Travel Distances & Times


Aguascalientes 863km
536mi
12hrs
Cancún 2007km
1247mi
29hrs
2144km
1332mi
31hrs
Chihuahua 1746km
1085mi
25hrs
971km
603mi
14hrs
3512km
2182mi
50hrs
Ciudad Juárez 2179km
1354mi
31hrs
1301km
808mi
19hrs
3463km
2152mi
49hrs
375km
233mi
5hrs
Durango 1138km
707mi
16hrs
419km
260mi
6hrs
2524km
1568mi
36hrs
709km
441mi
10hrs
1082km
672mi
15hrs
Guadalajara 984km
611mi
14hrs
251km
156mi
4hrs
2191km
1361mi
31hrs
1160km
721mi
17hrs
1552km
964mi
22hrs
609km
378mi
9hrs
Guanajuato 763km
474mi
11hrs
182km
113mi
3hrs
2014km
1251mi
29hrs
1143km
710mi
16hrs
1493km
928mi
21hrs
601km
373mi
9hrs
302km
188mi
4hrs
Hermosillo 2486km
1545mi
36hrs
1649km
1025mi
24hrs
3608km
2242mi
52hrs
1028km
639mi
15hrs
766km
476mi
11hrs
1231km
765mi
18hrs
1421km
883mi
20hrs
1723km
1071mi
25hrs
Matamoros 1315km
817mi
19hrs
893km
555mi
13hrs
2336km
1452mi
33hrs
1141km
709mi
16hrs
1407km
874mi
20hrs
938km
583mi
13hrs
1012km
629mi
14hrs
868km
539mi
12hrs
2168km
1347mi
31hrs
Mazatlán 1459km
907mi
21hrs
732km
455mi
10hrs
2891km
1796mi
41hrs
1022km
635mi
15hrs
1397km
868mi
20hrs
313km
194mi
4hrs
505km
314mi
7hrs
749km
465mi
11hrs
917km
570mi
13hrs
1166km
725mi
17hrs
Mérida 1828km
1136mi
26hrs
1963km
1220mi
28hrs
317km
197mi
5hrs
2904km
1804mi
41hrs
3279km
2037mi
47hrs
2352km
1461mi
34hrs
1982km
1232mi
28hrs
1891km
1175mi
27hrs
3483km
2164mi
50hrs
2039km
1267mi
29hrs
2543km
1580mi
36hrs
México City 411km
255mi
6hrs
504km
313mi
7hrs
1649km
1025mi
24hrs
1445km
898mi
21hrs
1820km
1131mi
26hrs
893km
555mi
13hrs
580km
360mi
8hrs
432km
268mi
6hrs
2002km
1244mi
29hrs
1030km
640mi
15hrs
1085km
674mi
16hrs
1458km
906mi
21hrs
Monterrey 1280km
795mi
18hrs
587km
365mi
8hrs
2363km
1468mi
34hrs
818km
508mi
12hrs
1108km
688mi
16hrs
615km
382mi
9hrs
777km
483mi
11hrs
662km
411mi
9hrs
1845km
1146mi
26hrs
323km
201mi
5hrs
928km
577mi
13hrs
2061km
1281mi
29hrs
989km
615mi
14hrs
Morelia 654km
406mi
9hrs
293km
182mi
4hrs
1951km
1212mi
28hrs
1310km
814mi
19hrs
1638km
1018mi
23hrs
712km
442mi
10hrs
279km
173mi
4hrs
157km
98mi
2hrs
1701km
1057mi
24hrs
1008km
626mi
14hrs
970km
603mi
14hrs
1701km
1057mi
24hrs
311km
193mi
4hrs
937km
582mi
13hrs
Nogales 2534km
1575mi
36hrs
1924km
1196mi
27hrs
3885km
2414mi
56hrs
969km
602mi
14hrs
708km
440mi
10hrs
1505km
935mi
22hrs
1697km
1054mi
24hrs
2108km
1310mi
30hrs
275km
171mi
4hrs
2459km
1528mi
35hrs
1192km
741mi
17hrs
3735km
2321mi
53hrs
2277km
1415mi
33hrs
1707km
1061mi
24hrs
1976km
1228mi
28hrs
Oaxaca 711km
442mi
10hrs
992km
616mi
14hrs
1490km
926mi
21hrs
1933km
1201mi
28hrs
2308km
1434mi
33hrs
1381km
858mi
20hrs
1068km
664mi
15hrs
920km
572mi
13hrs
2590km
1609mi
37hrs
1299km
807mi
19hrs
1573km
977mi
22hrs
1408km
875mi
20hrs
488km
303mi
7hrs
1441km
895mi
21hrs
761km
473mi
11hrs
2685km
1668mi
38hrs
Puebla 537km
334mi
8hrs
630km
391mi
9hrs
1526km
948mi
22hrs
1571km
976mi
22hrs
1946km
1209mi
28hrs
1019km
633mi
15hrs
706km
439mi
10hrs
558km
347mi
8hrs
2128km
1322mi
30hrs
925km
575mi
13hrs
1210km
752mi
17hrs
1326km
824mi
19hrs
125km
78mi
2hrs
1114km
692mi
16hrs
434km
270mi
6hrs
2402km
1493mi
34hrs
363km
226mi
5hrs
San Luis Potosí 828km
514mi
12hrs
168km
104mi
2hrs
2064km
1283mi
29hrs
1028km
639mi
15hrs
1403km
872mi
20hrs
476km
296mi
7hrs
351km
218mi
5hrs
210km
130mi
3hrs
1706km
1060mi
24hrs
658km
409mi
9hrs
789km
490mi
11hrs
1918km
1192mi
27hrs
417km
259mi
6hrs
537km
334mi
8hrs
400km
249mi
6hrs
1997km
1241mi
29hrs
1105km
687mi
16hrs
542km
337mi
8hrs
Tampico 949km
590mi
14hrs
567km
352mi
8hrs
1833km
1139mi
26hrs
1348km
838mi
19hrs
1723km
1071mi
25hrs
1090km
677mi
16hrs
750km
466mi
11hrs
824km
512mi
12hrs
2105km
1308mi
30hrs
508km
316mi
7hrs
1188km
738mi
17hrs
1531km
951mi
22hrs
542km
337mi
8hrs
530km
329mi
8hrs
851km
529mi
12hrs
2237km
1390mi
32hrs
876km
544mi
13hrs
515km
320mi
7hrs
399km
248mi
6hrs
Tapachula 1089km
677mi
16hrs
1699km
1056mi
24hrs
1376km
855mi
20hrs
2440km
1516mi
35hrs
2977km
1850mi
43hrs
2088km
1297mi
30hrs
1775km
1103mi
25hrs
1627km
1011mi
23hrs
3386km
2104mi
48hrs
1723km
1071mi
25hrs
2280km
1417mi
33hrs
1274km
792mi
18hrs
1247km
775mi
18hrs
1850km
1150mi
26hrs
1538km
956mi
22hrs
3212km
1996mi
46hrs
689km
428mi
10hrs
1070km
665mi
15hrs
1594km
990mi
23hrs
1411km
877mi
20hrs
Tijuana 3135km
1948mi
45hrs
2598km
1614mi
37hrs
4497km
2794mi
64hrs
1570km
976mi
22hrs
1309km
813mi
19hrs
2106km
1309mi
30hrs
2298km
1428mi
33hrs
2542km
1580mi
36hrs
876km
544mi
13hrs
2254km
1401mi
32hrs
1758km
1092mi
25hrs
4338km
2696mi
62hrs
2880km
1790mi
41hrs
2388km
1484mi
34hrs
2577km
1601mi
37hrs
817km
508mi
12hrs
3438km
2136mi
49hrs
3005km
1867mi
43hrs
2582km
1604mi
37hrs
2981km
1852mi
43hrs
4145km
2576mi
59hrs
Tuxtla Gutiérrez 960km
597mi
14hrs
1534km
953mi
22hrs
1146km
712mi
16hrs
2473km
1537mi
35hrs
2752km
1710mi
39hrs
1921km
1194mi
27hrs
1608km
999mi
23hrs
1460km
907mi
21hrs
3030km
1883mi
43hrs
1689km
1049mi
24hrs
2105km
1308mi
30hrs
838km
521mi
12hrs
1030km
640mi
15hrs
1809km
1124mi
26hrs
1321km
821mi
19hrs
3302km
2052mi
47hrs
542km
337mi
8hrs
923km
574mi
13hrs
1429km
888mi
20hrs
1206km
749mi
17hrs
392km
244mi
6hrs
3915km
2433mi
56hrs
Veracruz 845km
525mi
12hrs
938km
583mi
13hrs
1373km
853mi
20hrs
1854km
1152mi
26hrs
2229km
1385mi
32hrs
1327km
825mi
19hrs
1014km
630mi
14hrs
866km
538mi
12hrs
2436km
1514mi
35hrs
916km
569mi
13hrs
1526km
948mi
22hrs
1025km
637mi
15hrs
433km
269mi
6hrs
1036km
644mi
15hrs
742km
461mi
11hrs
2743km
1704mi
39hrs
383km
238mi
5hrs
301km
187mi
4hrs
905km
562mi
13hrs
506km
314mi
7hrs
865km
537mi
12hrs
3354km
2084mi
48hrs
773km
480mi
11hrs
Villahermosa 1136km
706mi
16hrs
1418km
881mi
20hrs
881km
547mi
13hrs
2334km
1450mi
33hrs
2605km
1619mi
37hrs
1810km
1125mi
26hrs
1494km
928mi
21hrs
1346km
836mi
19hrs
2916km
1812mi
42hrs
1396km
867mi
20hrs
1839km
1143mi
26hrs
545km
339mi
8hrs
913km
567mi
13hrs
1516km
942mi
22hrs
1222km
759mi
17hrs
3223km
2003mi
46hrs
835km
519mi
12hrs
781km
485mi
11hrs
1198km
744mi
17hrs
986km
613mi
14hrs
685km
426mi
10hrs
3834km
2382mi
55hrs
293km
182mi
4hrs
480km
298mi
7hrs
Zacatecas 1017km
632mi
15hrs
129km
80mi
2hrs
2254km
1401mi
32hrs
842km
523mi
12hrs
1217km
756mi
17hrs
290km
180mi
4hrs
319km
198mi
5hrs
311km
193mi
4hrs
1520km
944mi
22hrs
781km
485mi
11hrs
603km
375mi
9hrs
2061km
1281mi
29hrs
603km
375mi
9hrs
904km
562mi
13hrs
468km
291mi
7hrs
1795km
1115mi
26hrs
1091km
678mi
16hrs
728km
452mi
10hrs
186km
116mi
3hrs
585km
364mi
8hrs
1780km
1106mi
25hrs
2106km
1309mi
30hrs
1633km
1015mi
23hrs
1038km
645mi
15hrs
1518km
943mi
22hrs
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Useful Spanish


Most bus line and station workers do not speak English, so to travel by bus, some Spanish is necessary. This list of common Spanish words and phrases related to bus travel should help. For other Spanish words and phrases common to travel, see the glossary on Mexican Spanish.

salida local lado derecho

Purchasing Tickets

clase ejecutiva executive class

primera clase first class

segunda clase second class

asiento(s) seat(s)

autobús local intracity buses

camión long-distance buses

camioneta van

comprar boleto(s) buy ticket(s)

de paso buses originating from somewhere else that are passing through

destino destination

escalas number of stops, means the same as paradas

expreso same meaning as directo, no stops, at least in theory

hora de salida departure time

hora de llegada arrival time

horario bus schedule

llegada arrive

local buses originating from where you are

micros microbuses

paradas number of stops, means the same as escalas

pasajero(s) passenger(s)

pasillo aisle Seat

persero minibus

ruta route

sin escalas without stops

taquilla ticket booth

tarifa fare

ventanilla window seat

vía corta shorter route

viaje redondo round trip

viaje sencillo one way trip


At the Bus Station

andén boarding platform or place

baños publicos public restrooms

equipaje luggage

facturacion de equipaje luggage check

guarderia de equipaje luggage storage

salida exit

taxi autorizado authorized taxi

terminal de autobuses bus station


On the Bus

abordo aboard

abordando boarding

asiento seat

audifonos headphones

baños restrooms

conductor driver

ocupado occupied (restroom)

televisión/monitor television/monitor

Personal tools
Toolbox


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