Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Bus

This city has great buses. There are three or four companies that cover the local routes. Buses come along every few minutes on the busy streets and every half hour or so out in the sticks. I have never been on a bus that wasn't at least half full, and often there is standing room only.

The fare is four and a half pesos, which is about 40 cents. That gets you from where you get on to where you get off. There are no transfers. When you board, you are handed a ticket, which serves as a receipt. Inspectors of the transportation system board the buses periodically and make sure that all passengers are carrying tickets. Children ride free under a certain age, maybe 3 or 5 or 8, depending on the bus driver. We usually pay two and a half pesos for Ray, which is about 20 cents, the student and senior citizen rate.

The buses range from brand new to totally beat up. The seats are usually metal and there is rarely much of a suspension. The drivers range from cautious to maniacal. The interiors are always clean and the other passengers are courteous, giving up their seats for elders, pregnant women and women carrying children.

Yesterday a man was selling peanuts on the bus. Calendars, incense, coloring books - many things are sold on the bus. Donations are solicited - a nun with a can for coins, a blind man with an accordian, another with a white cane. There was a clown. Songs are sung and guitars are strummed and then the hat is passed. The show lasts until the next stop.

No comments: