Bicycle culture is on the up in Mexican cities. Most of them are flat enough to make cycling an option and some city authorities are starting to accommodate cyclists. Mexico City offers free bike rental and at least three dedicated bike routes. In December 2014 Guadalajara introduced Mibici (www.mibici.net), Mexico’s third bike-sharing scheme after Mexico City and Puebla. They work in the same way as other global bike-shares. You can hire decent road and mountain bikes in several other towns for M$250 to M$650 per day. Seek out less-traffic-infested routes and you should enjoy it. Mass Sunday rides are a growing phenomenon.
Taxis are common in towns and cities, and surprisingly economical. City rides cost around M$15 to M$20 per kilometer. If a taxi has a meter, you can ask the driver if it’s working (‘¿Funciona el taxímetro?’). If the taxi doesn’t have a functioning meter, establish the price of the ride before getting in (this may involve a bit of haggling).
Many airports and some big bus terminals have a system of authorized ticket-taxis – you buy a fixed-price ticket to your destination from a special taquilla (ticket window) and then hand it to the driver instead of paying cash. This saves haggling and major rip-offs, but fares are usually higher than you could get on the street.
Renting a taxi for a day-long out-of-town jaunt generally costs something similar to a cheap rental car – around M$600.
Generally known as camiones, local buses are usually the cheapest way to get around cities and out to nearby towns and villages. They run frequently, and fares in cities are just a few pesos. In many cities, fleets of small, modern microbuses have replaced the noisy, dirty older buses.
Buses usually halt only at fixed paradas (bus stops), though in some places you can hold your hand out to stop one at any street corner.
These are all names for vehicles that function as something between a taxi and a bus, running along fixed urban routes usually displayed on the windshield. They’re cheaper than taxis and quicker than buses. They will pick you up or drop you off on any corner along their route – to stop one, go to the curb and wave your hand. Tell the driver where you want to go. Usually you pay at the end of the trip and the fare (a little higher than a bus fare) depends on how far you go.
Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey all have metro (subway, underground railway) systems. Mexico City’s, in particular, is a quick, cheap and useful way of getting around. With 195 stations and over four million passengers every weekday, it’s the world’s third-busiest subway, so avoid using it in rush hour.
In some areas a variety of small vehicles provide alternatives to buses. Taxis colectivos (shared taxis, usually carrying four passengers who each pay a quarter of the full cab fare), Volkswagen minibuses (combis) and more comfortable passenger-carrying vans, such as Chevrolet Suburbans or Nissan Urvans, operate services between some towns. Fares are typically a little less than 1st-class buses. Microbuses or ‘micros’ are small, typically fairly new, 2nd-class buses with around 25 seats, usually running short routes between nearby towns. More primitive are passenger-carrying camionetas (pickups) and camiones (trucks), with fares similar to 2nd-class bus fares. Standing in the back of a lurching truck full of campesinos (land workers) and their machetes and animals is always an experience to remember!