Public transportation in Mexico is very affordable. It can be daunting, though, to navigate the system if you do not speak Spanish. Getting around is hectic, and peak hours are best avoided. The country has a well-developed infrastructure of national airports, buses and taxi services.
Travelling by bus
The country has invested heavily in creating an extensive network of intercity roads. Mexico is a big country, so travelling long distances by bus can be hard. But there are many quality national bus companies in the country. Most routes will have three classes of service to choose from, depending on your budget and how comfortably you want to travel. First class travel is practically pain-free, as seats that turn into beds are provided, along with WiFi, TV and bathrooms.
Local buses, however, are another story. They is little in the way of health and safety regulation for these services, meaning it is not unusual for people to hang from the doors, ask cars to move so the bus can cut in front of you and to take other similar risks. Micros, as they’re referred to locally, are very old and are driven aggressively. There is no real limit to how many people can be on board, so be prepared to stand and leave your personal space behind.That said, local buses are very cheap and they operate in most major cities. In Mexico City micros are a convenient way to get around and they are readily available. However, be careful as pickpockets abound. So don’t wear any jewelry and only bring the minimum cash you need with you when opting for this service. Peseros, another type of bus, are green and white and bigger than micros, but are practically the same thing.
Taxis are very convenient in Mexico, but there are many things you have to be aware of before getting into one. While they tend to be cheap, most don’t have meters installed so it’s important to agree on a price beforehand. The price usually depends on the area you are travelling to. Drivers rarely speak English, so negotiating a better price might be difficult. It is best not to hail cabs off the street, especially at night since the risk of being robbed or kidnapped is heightened. There are sitios (taxi ranks) or radio taxis that you can call, which is a safer option. You should be especially careful with taxis in Mexico City, where you need to observe basic precautions. Check for newly-licenced cabs - they will have a white-coloured licence plate that begins with a capital letter and five numbers. The government has cracked down on taxis due to the increased danger in the last few years. Make sure you can see the driver’s licence card clearly and, when you get in, send the driver’s information to someone you trust.
As with everything else, keep your wits about you. Most crimes can be avoided by travelling with more people. There are also taxi service apps available, like Uber and Cabify. These are generally safer, but you still need to be careful here since there have been reports of very lax background checks for drivers.
Since the country is so large, flying is the most convenient way to get around in Mexico. While domestic air travel is usually very cheap compared to the US or Europe, prices tend to soar during high season, so buy your tickets ahead of time. There are many options to choose from in terms of airlines and routes. The biggest airline is Aeromexico, but you can also use Interjet, Volaris, or Viva Aerobus. They all provide good levels of service, but watch out for hidden costs. Airlines have started to exclude things like baggage fees from the total (especially low-cost airlines). Most commercial airlines fly to and from Mexico, so travelling internationally is easy.
The metro system
Mexico City and Monterrey are the only cities in the country with a metro system. In Mexico City there are three metro systems; rail metro, tren ligero (light train), and metrobus. The rail runs underground with some overground stretches and is used by almost 4.5 million people every day. It has twelve lines that connect most major areas of the city. If you live in the outskirts, don’t expect to use it that often because they don’t operate across the entire city and are concentrated in the center. The tren ligero, is an extension of the rail system but does not cover as much ground. The metrobus travels on a bus lane that runs over 35 miles of Avenida Insurgentes (the longest commercial boulevard in the world). The metro is the easiest way to reach the city center and Azteca Stadium. For the metro system, avoid peak hours. It is almost impossible to get on and you might have to wait a long time before you are able to get on. Beware of pickpockets and dress sensibly, so avoid fancy clothes or jewelry, or anything else that will draw attention to you.
In Monterrey, the metro system is called metrorrey and is made up of two lines. There are complementary systems such as the transmetro, metrobus, and metro enlace.
In Mexico City, most public transport has women-only sections. The metro has a pink carriage, there is a pink bus, and pink taxis specifically for women. These measures were implemented to protect and avoid violence against women.
Walking and cycling
Being a pedestrian in the big cities is hard, especially because of the distances to cover and the lack of respect shown to them. Cars will not stop to let you pass on zebra crossings even if you have the right of way and sidewalks are poorly maintained. This is not the case across the whole country, but it is fairly common. Colonial cities are, however, good to explore on foot, especially if there are cobbled streets. Cars tend to go slower on these streets and you may even end up walking on the road yourself.
Cycling in cities has become more common, but it is developing slowly due to the importance afforded to cars in terms of the overall transport system and infrastructure in the country. There are long distances, especially in Mexico City, so it might not be as convenient for some. Cycling recreationally in the mountains is popular and Mexico offers many routes for mountain biking.