Taking the Bus in Spanish: Don’t get lost in Mexico

Mexico's best-kept secret: Taking a BUS IN SPANISH

How do you get the right bus ticket in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries? What do you say when you enter the bus? What is the bus driver going to ask you? 

Si no quieres terminar en el lugar equivocado o pagar una multa por no tener el boleto correcto de autobús en México, entonces estás en el lugar indicado. (If you don’t want to end up at the wrong place or pay a fine for not having the right bus ticket in Mexico, then you are in the right place.)

Learn what exactly to expect before entering a bus, during and after. And all the Spanish chunks you will need for that journey! 

I am Spring Spanish teacher María Fernanda and let’s start by getting you a ticket! 

#1 Comprando un billete (buying a ticket)

No matter if you’re taking an inner city bus or a long distance bus, necesitarás un billete (you will need a ticket). In this video lesson, I will be speaking specifically about taking a bus in Mexico and here you have three options to buy a ticket: 

  • en línea (in the line)
  • en la taquilla de la central de autobús (at the counter of the bus terminal)
  • directamente con el conductor (directly with the driver)

Imagine you’re at la parada de autobús (bus stop) and the driver will help you to buy your inner city ticket just like this:

ACTOR 1
Hola, un boleto para ir al centro, por favor. 
(Hi, a ticket to go downtown, please.)

BUS DRIVER
Son veinte pesos.
(It is 20 pesos.)

ACTOR 1
No estoy seguro a dónde tengo que bajarme.
(I am not sure where I have to get off.)

BUS DRIVER
No te preocupes güera, yo te aviso cuando estemos cerca, pero de aquí al centro son como quince minutos.
(No worries blondie, I will let you know when we are close, but from here to downtown it’s about 15 minutes.)

ACTOR 1
¡Qué amable! ¡Muchas gracias!
(Very kind of you! Thank you very much!)

What a nice chofer (driver), right? But what about if instead you’re at la terminal de autobuses (the bus terminal)? Let’s have a look at the following conversation:

ACTOR 1
Hola, necesito un boleto para la Ciudad de México. ¿A qué hora sale el siguiente autobús?
(Hi, I need a ticket for Mexico City. At what time is the next bus?)

AT THE COUNTER
Claro, el siguiente es a las dos de la tarde. ¿Le gustaría un boleto para esa corrida?
(Of course, the next one is at 2 pm. Would you like a ticket for that trip?)

ACTOR 1
Sí, me parece muy bien. Podría darme dos boletos, por favor. Preferentemente a la mitad del autobús.
(Yes, sounds good to me. Could you give me two tickets, please. Preferably in the middle of the bus.)

AT THE COUNTER
Perfecto, necesito una identificación y ¿va a pagar con tarjeta o en efectivo?
(Perfect, I need an ID and are you paying with card or cash?)

ACTOR 1
En efectivo, gracias. Mire, aquí tiene.
(In cash, thanks. Look, here it is.)

AT THE COUNTER
Muy bien, aquí están sus boletos para abordar el autobús. Le recuerdo que si va a documentar equipaje, deberá entregárselo al chofer del autobús antes de abordar.
(Very good, here are your tickets to board the bus. Remember that if you’re going to check any luggage, you should give it to the driver before boarding.)

ACTOR 1
Excelente. Te agradezco por tu atención.
(Excellent. I am grateful for your attention.)

AT THE COUNTER
De nada. ¡Que tenga buen viaje!
(You’re welcome. Have a nice trip!)

#2 Don’t get scammed!

Si es tu primera vez tomando el autobús en México (If it’s your first time taking the bus in Mexico) make sure you’re using the correct websites to do this. 

Such as: 

  • ADO, 
  • Estrella Roja, 
  • Primera Plus, and so on…

If you can’t go to la terminal de autobuses, then you can buy them online directly on their websites. 

But if you talk cara a cara con un vendedor (face to face with a salesperson) then you will need chunks like:

  • ¿Dónde está la taquilla? (Where is the ticket office?)
  • ¿Puedo hablar con tu gerente? (Can I speak with your manager?)
  • ¿Puedes repetir más despacio, por favor? (Can you repeat slower, please?)
  • ¿Cuántas paradas hace el autobús? (How many stops does the bus do?)
  • ¿A qué hora llegaríamos al destino final? (A what time are we arriving at the final destination?)

These will be useful when trying to buy a ticket at the counter. 

If you need more useful chunks in Spanish that you can use all the time when speaking to natives, then make sure to download our free Spanish chunking kit and the link is in the description. 

Did you notice I said tomar el autobús (take the bus) and not coger el autobús (take the bus). Even though we will understand in Mexico what you are referring to, Te lo advierto (I am warning you) coger in Mexico is not the same as Spain, so if you want to avoid being teased by the bus driver, please ensure to use tomar el autobús.

#3 Asking for help

Alright, so finally you have your ticket and it is time for you to tomar tu primer autobús en México (take your first bus in Mexico). It doesn’t matter if it’s for a long distance or inner city trips, here are some useful chunks you will need or that you might hear from el chofer del autobús (the bus driver):

BUS DRIVER
Su boleto, por favor.
(Your ticket, please.)

ACTOR 1
Claro, aquí tiene. Disculpe señor, tengo una pregunta.
(Of course, here you have it. Excuse me sir, I have a question.)

BUS DRIVER
Sí, dígame.
(Yes, tell me.)

ACTOR 1
La chica de la taquilla me dijo que este autobús realiza diferentes paradas.
(The girl from the counter told me that the bus makes different stops.)

BUS DRIVER
Así es, tenemos cinco diferentes paradas. ¿Usted adónde va?
(That’s right, we have 5 different stops. Where are you going?)

ACTOR 1
Yo voy a Chetumal.
(I am going to Chetumal)

BUS DRIVER
Chetumal es la tercera parada. Voy a estar anunciando por el micrófono las paradas. Solo tiene que estar usted atento.
(Chetumal is the third stop. I will be announcing by the microphone the stops. You just need to be attentive.)

ACTOR 1
Ah, ¡muy bien! Entonces estaré al pendiente.
(Oh, alright! I will be waiting then.)

BUS DRIVER
¡Que tenga un buen viaje!
(Have a nice trip!)

Recap: The most important chunks

So here are the most important chunks again that you will definitely need when riding the bus: 

  • la parada de autobús (bus stop)
  • un boleto para… (a ticket to…) and then you say whichever city you want to go
  • ¿Cuánto es? (How much is it?)
  • De aquí al centro son como quince minutos. (From here to downtown is about 15 minutes.)
  • la terminal de autobuses ( the bus terminal)
  • ¿A qué hora sale el siguiente autobús?  (At what time is the next bus?)
  • ¿Le gustaría un boleto para esa corrida? (Would you like a ticket for that trip?)
  • ¿Dónde está la taquilla? (Where is the ticket office?)
  • ¿Puedo hablar con tu gerente? (Can I speak with your manager?)
  • ¿Cuántas paradas hace el autobús? (How many stops does the bus do?)
  • ¿A qué hora llegaríamos al destino final? (A what time are we arriving at the final destination?)

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