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Colectivo — México

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Even though colectivos usually look like taxis and have similar markings, they're not, because unlike taxis colectivos are shared among several passengers, usually following set routes, departing from designated stands, or sitios, and picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere along the way until they reach their destinations, usually other sitios, which is similar to the way second-class ordinario buses operate. What's more, colectivo fares are low, only a fraction of what taxis charge and a little more than second-class or local buses, although they're usually faster than buses.

Colectivos are easy to spot, with route or destination prominently displayed on their windshields. To flag one down, just wave, and the driver will pull over if the colectivo is not full. Often, drivers will hold up their hand, signifying with their fingers the number of seats available. Before boarding, tell the driver your destination, and before taking off, inquire about and agree to the fare. Payment is generally made upon arrival.

One last thing, and it's counter intuitive — always sit in the back if a seat if available. Here's why. Most colectivos are designed to seat five, including the driver — two up front, three in back. But because they're working on the margins, most drivers cram a fifth passenger between themselves and the passenger up front. So if that's you when the fifth passenger is picked up, it's your job to slide over and sit between the two front seats. Most colectivos have a pillow or cushion there to sit on, but it's still pretty cramped and uncomfortable, and it can be especially taxing on longer trips.

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