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Bus Stations Versus Airports

Topics: Transportation

Written by: Mexperience

Published: Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mexico’s flirt with low-cost airlines could be coming to an end not too long after it got off the ground. The main reason is the high cost of jet fuel, which has led a number of airlines to cut back on flights, and several have been grounded for one reason or another – mostly involving money, or more precisely, the lack of it – and fares have risen.

People who may have flown instead of taking the bus, could soon find themselves back on the buses,  which have benefited from government subsidies on diesel fuel.

Traveling by bus might not be as trendy, or as fast, or as comfortable as flying, but it’s generally cheaper and there are more options, at least as far as price and frequency goes.

Nothing quite highlights the difference between the two modes of travel as the contrast – in the capital at least – between the airport and its proletarian counterparts the bus stations.

To start with, services that are “included” in the price of an airline ticket are apparently optional for those slumming it at one of Mexico City’s four intercity bus terminals.

Luggage can’t be checked in until  half an hour before the bus leaves, but for those early arrivers there are some luggage-storage services which cost extra even if they’re provided by the same check-in people. For a few pesos, they will stash the bags behind the counter until the time comes for them to be checked on to the bus.

Toilets are three pesos to get in – cleaning costs presumably, which will leave patrons dreading to think what they might be like for free. Parking is considerably cheaper than at the airport, so are the taxi services.

Some other things are pretty much the same, merely on a different level. Prices at shops and cafeterias are marked up in accordance with a captive clientele, and some poor quality food can be had at rip-off rates.

If you’re picking somebody up at the bus station, you won’t be quite so obviously not a traveler as you would at the airport, even when you’re not holding up a piece of card with a name on it.

Passengers disembarking from a long bus trip usually look more bedraggled than their recently airborne cousins. More often than not, they will be hauling along their own bags, not whizzing them along on wheels. Some, rather than hoping they might be recognized, will be hoping the opposite, perhaps to avoid the mutual application of the same stupid question. After all, nobody goes to an airport or a bus station for fun. Do they?