Monday, April 08, 2013

El Reto Metro

All Hope Abandon...
Used to be that a good test of a Mexico City visitor's savvy was the ability to enter and navigate the underground Metro system and exit relatively unscathed. Now the city has developed an increasingly extensive network of MetroBuses, running above ground.

A double coach MetroBus at the Sonora Station
The system  of fares is based on a smart card. But it takes some smarts to understand how it works. It also helps, as we found, to have friendly, sometimes English speaking fellow passengers who can advise you.

We recently used the MetroBus system a couple of times. The first requirement was to learn how to purchase and load the smart card, which although available in varied, colorful designs, all work the same. But, according to the MetroBus web site, the vending machines may vary. Some automatically issue cards according to the money you put in, while others require you to key in the amount.

Compra de Tarjeta
Sigue las instrucciones de la máquina.

1. Presiona el botón de "compra"

2. Deposita la cantidad que desees recargar. La máquina acepta monedas de $1, $2, $5 y $10, y billetes de $20, $50, $100 y $200 pesos.***

3. Puedes retirar la tarjeta recargada en el compartimento inferior.

Recuerda que las máquinas no dan cambio, por lo que es necesario que deposites la cantidad exacta que deseas recargar.
***(Algunas máquinas entregan la tarjeta sin saldo y es necesario ingresarlas en el lector para después depositar el saldo deseado).

Pick a card, any card
 Once you have obtained an MB smart card, you can move on to the turnstile and have your card read. With beginner's luck, it will admit you to the bus platform.

That was the easy part. We now ramp up the reto to the reto de las rutas.

In our naïvete, we assumed that each line carried buses on simple, linear routes. Not True.

We were coming from the direction of Tacubaya toward the Nuevo Léon station, where we understood to get down from the bus and walk about a block to a different Nuevo León station. (I have to mention at this point that you are allowed free transfers between crossing lines if done within two hours of your original entry to the System.)

We did as instructed, but the next bus we boarded swung right, to the east, an unexpected direction. We didn't feel alone in our confusion, as a  Chilanga near us was confused as well. But by a miracle, yet another Chilanga knew the ropes of la ruta, and in good English, explained what to do.
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