You may have juts read the title of this blog post and thought how on earth can you write a whole post about Mexican public transport, just you wait and see.
As you may have been able to tell if you have read my last 2 blog posts, I am currently travelling through Mexico and so far, I have been nothing but impressed by the public transport that I have found.
Before I get into this piece fully, I will preface it by saying that I have only been in Mexico for 3 weeks now, so I have definitely not experienced every piece of public transport across the country, but I have definitely tried some of it.
I started my trip in Mexico City. This is a city that really splits opinion. Some backpackers love it, and others hate it, I am in the former group. More importantly, it gets a very bad reputation for safety, including its public transport. However, I think that the public transport in Mexico City is one of the best systems that I have experienced. The major take away is that it is only $5 mex for each journey on the metro or $7 mex for a trip on the bus, somewhere in the 20p range if you are using British Pounds. This is unbelievable value, important if you are on a budget.
Almost all of the major attractions can be reached either via the metro or a combination of the metro and a bus. Yes, these can get very full around rush hour times, but that is not dissimilar to any other metro system in the world. The worry that most people have is around safety and this leads many to exclusively get Ubers in the city. There is nothing wrong with getting an Uber, especially at night as I would recommend it, but if you want to save money then public transport is the way forward.
If you are a female traveller, then all metro trains and buses have a large area that is only accessible for females and children. At the metro stations this is often policed by a security guard, so you know that you can trust it. I personally had no problems on the metro or buses, and I didn’t hear of any other travellers who did either, you just have to keep your wits about you. You will notice that even many locals will keep their backpacks on their front whilst on the trains.
Outside of Mexico City, I have also had great experiences with public transport. In and around Cancun there are plenty of local buses known as collectivos that can take you around the city. These might not be the most luxurious, but again they are staggeringly cheap, about $10 mex per journey and very frequent. I had trouble finding the correct buses and places to catch them from, but each time a friendly local helped me out and pointed me in the right direction.
Most backpackers will travel around the south of Mexico on ADO buses. There is often an option to take a collectivo between destinations, but for longer journeys most opt for the more reliable and comfortable ADO services. Not only do these operate between all of the major backpacking destinations, but my first time using one, I was shocked at the level of comfort that they provided. Yes, they are more expensive than buses that you find in Asia or South America, but they are, at least from my experience, on the whole much nicer.
Another great thing about the ADO buses that I found out once I got to Mexico, is that you can book them extremely easily via their app. This means that you don’t have to wait about in bus stations for hours in queues for tickets as you can buy them in advance. Furthermore, they are extremely flexible. As a solo backpacker, your plans can often change last minute depending on who you meet. ADO buses allow you to cancel any reservation up to 60 minutes before departure. This can be done at the ticket kiosk if you have a paper ticket, or via WhatsApp (very central American) if you have booked on the app. So, if your plans change last minute, it is no worry at all.
As I said at the start of this post, my experience so far with Mexican public transport is not country wide. However, every time that I have used it, I have been pleasantly surprised. Either by the cost, comfort or just generally how easy it has been to navigate around the country.