Friday, February 11, 2011

Chariot of Ire

"Public Transportation" in Querétaro, like many Mexican cities (note the vagueness - we can't be bothered to look it up), consists mostly of privately-owned, lightly regulated "taxibuses" that race through the streets at five times the posted speed limit, darting from corner to corner to pick up passengers before their competitors can. (Basically, imagine if New York City's buses operated the way its taxis do, and you'll get the idea.) The police pages of the newspapers here are full of taxibus-related crashes. In fact, just yesterday, we read of a collision in the Centro. There was no need to call an ambulance - not because there were no injuries (there were), but because the other vehicle was an ambulance, carrying an already-injured patient to the hospital. At best, these things are a menace to God-fearing peoples everywhere.

But then, walking through the extremely narrow streets here this week - streets that are barely wide enough to accommodate the width of a parked car plus a taxibus without at least one of them inching on to the sidewalk - we were passed by this gasoline-powered murder machine (license number 626-906-T, for any of our readers in local traffic enforcement).


Just back from the Ben Hur chariot race, are we? Given the congestion in the Centro, it's hard to get above 10 miles per hour, but we think that's still fast enough for this thing to open up your VW Bug, or your thigh, like a can of sardines. The first two questions that come to mind - both rhetorical - are, How can this possibly be legal? and, Seriously, what are you, some kind of a fucking asshole?

Here's the same taxibus passing close to a helpless schoolgirl and an adorable shaggy puppy.


We've managed to go for years without taking one of these things, mostly because we can't figure out the system. But if we ever did ride one, we'd ride this one, simply because it's safer to be inside.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

They drive as if they were on Top Gear, after hearing Top Gear say they are lazy, fat and flatulant.

Anonymous said...

Readers might be interested to see what collective transportion is called (referring to the collective, not the armed aspect) in different countries.

From DF, here are my two favourite collective transport experiences:
1) I ring the bell, go to the door and wait to get off. Driver slows down for the tope at my corner, then speeds up again. I call his attention, “I rang the bell…” He answers, with annoyance, “Well, I slowed down, didn’t I?”

2) Some important futbol tournament is underway, Cup of the Americas or some such, and Mexico is playing. Everyone is tuned in. The bus driver has his radio on to follow the game. I look up. No, I was wrong. He is watching the game on his dashboard TV as he drives. (This was in the pre-cell phone era, about 10 yrs ago, so the text-and-drive wasn‘t a thing yet.)

MS

Dave said...

That's just nasty. Even if they'd only be only plastic lug covers (doubtful). The vehicle is intimidating enough. (Rather like an "If you're driving close enough to read this" sticker on a Hummer).

My chilanga wife could drive fearlessly in D.F. until we'd get anywhere near a pesero....

Ralph Cramden said...

I take them occasionally, my favorite memory is the mariachi band playing on the bus. It is a heavy duty pick up with a box for people, maybe 20 at best, and always in need of a tune-up. Ocho pesos for 3 blocks or all day around the pueblo. That is a scary looking one, should be painted powder blue to take the edge off those kneecap demolishers.

I Must Be Crazy To Live In Mexico said...

Seriously, spikes? Guaww! I've been meaning to do a post on public transportation in Reynosa. When I first moved to Reynosa I saw old, tricked-out school buses with Playboy bunny insignias and dingle balls. I thought it was strange that school children would be riding in such high style. Eventually I was enlightened to the fact that the old school buses were public transport, of which I've had the pleasure of riding twice.

Mexfiles said...

I sort of miss the excitement of hanging out the door during the morning rush hour on the peseros in DF...especially along the barancas out in Santa Fé.

My best pesero ride was when I had a job out in Tlahuac, a 40 minute bus ride from the end of the Metro line. We always had Indians and Construction workers on board, along with a couple of sailors (the Sec. de Marina was one stop). This particular bus had a disco ball and some cool black lights in the interior, so... of course... when the bomberos came on board to collect for a new fire station what better time for the driver to crank up "YMCA" by the Village People on his CD player.

Anonymous said...

I am unfortunate enough to ride one of these on a daily basis in Queretaro and they're every bit as bad as described previously.
The other day i got on the bus where the underage looking driver was sitting at the wheel with a toddler on his lap,racing through the streets...i couldn't believe my eyes. Seeing children travel in cars without a seatbelt is disturbing enough but that was just too much.....