Merida has a really great system of buses including mini-buses that seat around 10 – 12 people (PACKED!) and the larger, full sized buses, all of which will take you within just a few blocks of your destination. But there are so many of them, and so many routes in the city, it’s really difficult to discern exactly which bus you need to take. A general rule of thumb that seems to work pretty well is that all of the city buses begin and end in Centro (which is the city center.) The new rates as of 2017 are 8pesos (about .45cents, usd) with discounts for senior citizens, students, and children on almost all of the bus lines. And, they’re all a very safe way to get around the city! In a nutshell, if you get lost and don’t know how to get to where you need to be, the best thing to do (aside from using your Maps App) is to relax, take a deep breath, and hop on a bus. They all (for the most part) have a list of their destinations on their windshields so just look for one that says “Centro.” Flag it down, pay your 8pesos, then be on your way!
An alternative to the buses are the city’s taxi fleet, although not always the best alternative. Be aware that there are a few unscrupulous drivers in the city that charge “Gringo Fares” in that the fare is almost double what it’s supposed to be. And just because there’s a meter in the car doesn’t mean that you’ll always get a fair fare because the meters can be set for different types of fares, and some of them can be pre-set to a certain beginning price, so be sure to check anyways.
The taxis without meters are usually the ones where the drivers just sort of make up their own rates, casually based on what they’ve been able to get by with from tourists in the pasts. So before you get inside the taxi, stick your head in to see if there’s a meter and if not, try to find out what the approximate fare will be to your destination (which is generally difficult because very few drivers speak English!)
Remember this: “direccion” means address. And when you’re giving the address of your destination, here are a couple of very important tips:
-calle (cah-yay) means street.
-colonias means suburb or barrios.
-entre means between.
And you have to know all of this in order to get to where you’re going. For instance: there are MANY barrios in the city including col. Altabrisa, col. Mexico Oriente, col. Mayapan, Centro, etc. And each colonia has the same streets that colonias all over the city have: calle 15 may be seen in each colonia but is NOT the same street city-wide (generally). There-fore, you would say something like colonia mexico oriente, calle 20 (which will get you in the proximity of where you’re going) and then you would add: entre calle 15 y (and) calle 17. Yes, its that simple! Oh, you also have to give the exact number or name of the place to where you’re headed.
The alternative that many prefer is to just download Uber onto your smartphone! It’s a lot less expensive that other taxis, you have a pick-up point and destination point plotted out on a google map, the app tells you how long you will have to wait for a pick-up, what type of car it will be, the driver’s name, and the approximate fare! How simple is that? (You can download Uber from GooglePlay! It’s free!)
Aside from the above ways of getting around, here are the names and Whatsapp (or phone) numbers of a few drivers who at least speak a little English, who are very honest and helpful (usually they’ll offer to assist you with your bags!), pleasant, and can really help your stay in the city to be a lot easier on the mind!
- Guillermo (Mimo) – +52 1 999 263 3000 I like Guillermo as do everyone who has the pleasure of riding with him. He’s very intelligent, very conversant, speaks English fluently, and can tell you anything about the city that you want to know including the locations of hospitals, atms, the best mercados (markets), malls, or any location that you’re interested in! He goes way out of his way to help his passengers, and once you’ve had him as a driver, you’ll have him on speed dial for the duration of your trip. If you need to be somewhere, give him a call or text him thru Whatsapp (same number.)
- Ernesto – +52 1 999 334 3904 Ernesto is another really awesome driver! He’s fair, very honest, speaks English, and knows where everything is in the city! He will help you in any way that he can and always has a smile on his face! He, too, will go out of his way to help you. So this is another driver that you might want to consider keeping on speed-dial.
Between the Uber app, and the awesome drivers that are listed above, you should have no problem in getting around in the city, safely, at a great price, and without problems!
If you know of other really dependable drivers or modes of transport, please share your knowledge by dropping us a note! In the subject line, just type “transport” and it will get to the proper person.
Here’s a link that you might get a lot of use out of: it’s the city bus routes, bus lines, and you might even find out what your bus will look like from a picture included on the page!
We’re putting together a general list of the major streets or calles but for the moment, suffice it to say that “Perf de Merida Lic. Manuel Berzunza” is the avenue that runs completely around the city of Merida. So if you get on the avenue, you will eventually get back to where you started.
Also, Prolongacion Paseo Montejo will take you from Gran Plaza Mall all the way to Centro. There are quite a few shopping strip malls with names such as Home Depot, Staples, 7-11, Walmart, etc on the ride!
Another helpful hint is that in Centro, almost all of the streets are one-way. In fact many of the streets in Merida are one-way so if you’re in a rental car, you should be very attentive to these little things as not noticing that you’re going to wrong way on a one-way street might be detremental to your happiness, if not safety, welfare, and legal standing!