Gringo : Turistinfo : Transportation
For Long-Distance Busses/Stations see Get Out of Town WE ARE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE
THAT earlier versions of THIS PAGE (and others) HAS/have BEEN
`innocently' PLAGIARIZED (2003)
and thus we are now real
authors... heh. (ALL rights
STILL reserved FYI...).

Other Turinfo Pages:

Tijuana Maptext.

Getting Around
Busses / Taxis




Leaving Town

Things to See.

Revolution Avenue.




Markets/Swap Meets

Shopping Malls



Buying Liquor

Baja California wine



Busses In and Around Tijuana.

by Michael Arthur and Daniel Charles -- 2004 Revision
  1. Kinds of Busses
  2. Getting Around Town - WHERE?.
  3. Fares.
  4. Hours of Service.
  5. Onboard Entertainment.
  6. A Few Routes.
  7. Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada.
  8. @2004 and counting: the new Super-Route Scandal

  1. Kinds of Busses.
  2. There are your big, regular "city" busses (called "camiones" or "burras" [that's right, a female burro, or jenny donkey]), and there are your mini-busses and van-extensions (called "Calafias" [that's right, the name of the Queen of the mythical Amazon island kingdom i.e. queendom of California]) and....

  3. Getting Around Town.
  4. Where Are You Going And How Do You Get The Right Bus There?

    WARNING for the Wary: YOU REALLY SHOULD BE ABLE TO SPEAK A Little Spanish before getting yourself lost on the bus system in Tijuana.

    ADVICE for the Adventurous: Have Fun!

    The city busses in Tijuana DO NOT come equiped with maps and schedules to tell you where and when and how. Fortunately, they DO run on set routes and the bus route you ride today will probably be running tomorrow. THE TRICK IS finding out which bus goes where!

    Once you Know Where YOU are going, then You Only Need Go Figure HOW To Tell WHERE A Bus Is Going, and, well, Ask the Driver! BUT, What If you don't speak Spanish... or if the bus is zooming toward you and won't stop unless you wave it down... what do you do?

    Answer: LOOK ON THE WINDSHIELD. Practically every bus will have its chief destination or destinations posted on a small sign, or written in soap right onto the windshield.

    (By the way... sometimes you can trust the traditional Destination Signs ABOVE the windshield, and sometimes Not. We have seen modern digital dot signs above the windshield still spelling out Destinations in Orange County or the Suburbs of San Francisco... ahem. This bus has been taken to Mexico. Sold South of the border to Tijuana. Help!)

    We repeat:
    (1) Where You Are Going VERY IMPORTANT, If You Don't Know where you are going, well... hmmmm. Read some more here and pick a spot. What's that? You want Mikey to tell you where he likes it? Go to the beach. Look at the Guardian fence plunging into the sea. "Border friendship park" heh heh ha ha more like border paranoia parkanoia oh yeah.
    (2) Once you know where you want to go, then you will need to know:
    What Is The Important Destination There or Beyond There which the driver would recognize or know about, and
    (3) What Are The Bus Abbreviations -- "CAM CEN" or "CAM CENTRAL" means Camionera Central (the main bus station and an important destination for all travelers), "AERPTO" means aeropuerto (airport), "PAL" or "PALACIO" means City Hall, "PZA RIO" means the Plaza Rio shopping center in the River Zone (across the street from CECUT and three blocks from Mercado Hidalgo) and "CENTRO" means downtown.

    There is another way to know where a bus is going -- listen for the greeter to shout out the destination. Many busses come equiped with friends/acquaintances/helpers of the driver, or hucksters looking for tips, who jump on and off the busses at important stops and shout out the destination. Often these are the singers, entertainers, donation solicitors, who work/entertain the busses, performing this info-service for the driver in exchange for a free ride and the chance to perform for tips. EXAMPLE: at the "LINEA" bus stop near the border (next to a traffic circle beyond the Sea of Taxis and Island of Tacos) you will hear a constant stream of shouting, "Centro Tercera, subile subile..." which means "downtown Third Street, get onboard, get onboard." Those, incidentally, are the busses which will drop you near Revolución Avenue.

    If you aren't willing to play this game of reading moving windshields or listening to the bus shouters, we suggest that you consider hiring a Taxi to take you wherever you are going. At least you can be sure you will get where you want to go, although it will cost you ten (or twenty, thirty) times more than a bus. (If you don't speak Spanish, talk with your driver BEFORE getting into his cab, to make sure you understand him and he understands you. Bargain before getting in. And when you get out, don't forget to tip him for whatever courtesy he has shown you. Especially if he takes you downtown for less than five dollars).

    (2004 SPECIAL UPDATE: The recent appearance of the "Taxi Libre" fleet has radically changed the taxi situation. Please see our Taxi page taxrut01.htm for more info. [Nerds and 'puter geeks may also browse like bueyes directly on the directory "bones" {omaigad but we love digressions like this, eh? Eh.} eh-heh] ditto eh heh heh heh.)

    In addition to your standard big-city bus, there are also hordes of minibusses and extended-vanbusses going every whichway. They too will have their destinations written or posted in the front window. These little busses are collectively known as Calafias -- a curious name with a separate history.

    We emphasize again that the cost for a taxi is often worth the expense, considering the ease of access -- and knowledge of the city -- which the drivers can offer you. Many speak good English, too. With that, we put on our Pontius Pilate mask and effectively/affectedly wash our hands clean of any bloody bonesgut guilt for getting you lost and kidnapped and raped and murdered in the distant hinterlands of further Tijuanangeles where drug gangs will stop shooting each other to say hey, what's that pretty little gringo ass doing out here? (THIS self-serving EXAGERRATION and hyperbolic prevarication HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY gringo-fear Incorporated, making your world a leeeeettle more paranoid, señorita, eh?)

    But getting back on track with a major token for the clue bus, if you DO speak a little Spanish, the fact remains that during the day, bus service is excellent, although crowded at rush hour, like big cities anywhere. And there are the added benefits of

    • on-board entertainment,
    • occasional snack service sales,
    • body odor,
    • sometime disco-lighting effects and...

    Well, go ahead, don't believe it... the bus is not a scene, a culture, a world wholly unto itself. We didn't either until we got onboard. You may also during your trip (especially on the routes over the river and through the streets to downtownmother's house we go... I mean from the border traffic circle beyond the island of tacos) you may also see loudmouthed Gringos making a spectacle of ourselves pretending we are SO Incredibly Hip and Cool coming "down" to Tijuana and riding on the bus and bla bla bla bla bla sex drugs rock & roll JUST LET Everyone know we KNOW SO GODDAMM much about Tijuana.... (the ugly american is not dead) (we the un-dead, rather). Ahem. Shut up, Danny. Okay, Mikey.

    Go to Top.

  5. Fares
  6. Ah yes, the cost. City busses now (2004) charge five-and-a-half pesos (or fifty cents U.S.) which you pay when you get on. The driver will give you a ticket for each fare you pay. This is only a ticket, NOT a transfer. There are NO transfers. Minibusses (called "Calafias") and van-busses also charge 5-1/2 pesos but sometimes you pay when you get off.

    Unlike San Diego, the bus drivers carry change -- in both pesos and U.S. coin (BUT within reason -- don't expect to get change for a ten or twenty dollar bill). If you hand him a dollar he will quickly give you fifty cents change. Or if you are two people, just hand him a dollar and he'll give you two tickets. (Yes, Virginia, there is a ticket!)

    Go to Top.

  7. Hours of Service.
  8. Go to Top.

  9. Onboard Entertainment.
  10. Heh heh heh, yes, there are singers who clamber onboard with guitars and serenade the passengers for tips. Some of them are pretty good, others are, well, spirited, at least.

    Most of the "cantantes" -- singers -- have a spiel they give after a song or two. In effect they say something like, "Ladies and gentlemen passengers, I sincerely ask you to forgive my bothering you, I am no great artist, only a simple person trying to make a living, and if any one of you from the goodness of your hearts can see fit to help me with any little coins, I would be most grateful and thank God for your good will have a good day and may God bless you...."

    You will also see & hear solicitors for various non-profits who will give you a piece of candy in exchange for your donation. In their speech out loud to the bus as a whole, many of these solicitors will first beg pardon for the bother of interfering with your journey and your day and then explain how they represent a certain drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and that with the grace of God after a vicious and depraved youth and many years when they ran wild in the streets caring little for their own welfare or for the well-being of their families and friends, they are now reformed and enjoying the blessings of eternal life and an honest living Praise God for all his mercies and if you would like a candy please be so kind as to take advantage of their presence here and any little donation you might make will be rewarded in heaven and hereafter amen.

    There are also occasional salesmen and women, offering everything from wallets to popsicles (paletas). Mmmmm. Unlike on the U.S. side, snacking on the bus is permitted. But frowned on if it is REALLY Crowded.

    Go to Top.

  11. A Few Routes.
  12. FROM THE BORDER to Downtown: The border bus stop is a real experience in and of itself: a growling strip of jockeying busses and men shouting TERCERA CENTRO TERCERA CENTRO SUBILE SUBILE (third street downtown third street downtown get onboard get onboard). It is located in the archipelago beyond the "sea of taxis and island of tacos" (copyright patent pending say no to piracy di no a la pirateria) [heh heh heh very cuty schmooty fool]. Anyway where were we? Oh yes, the border bus stop.

    To get DOWNTOWN FROM THE BORDER, just walk past all the taxis to the noisy traffic circle here and get on one of the busses going to the CENTRO or CENTRO TERCERA. There are a couple different routes, but most of them cross Revolution and Constitution at one point or another.

    Other people will prefer to walk downtown and catch their bus from there - like if you're going to visit the beach border fence.

    BUSSES FROM DOWNTOWN To get to the Casa de La Cultura you can take either a Blue & White Taxi or the ALTAMIRA VILLA bus. To take the bus, go to the right-hand side (according to traffic direction) of Third Street (Carillo Puerto) between Constitution and Ninos Heroes (B & C). It's a big smelly bus stop a block and a half west of Revolution. Big smelly busstop sticks out like a sore needle in a haystack, heh heh. Make sure you get on the bus that says ALTAMIRA, and to be doubly sure ask the driver "Casa de la Cultura?" and be ready to get out after a few minutes ride, AFTER you have made two turns and climbed up the big hill with its view over the town and valley. The casa will be that big old stone school building on the left in the trees.

    TO GET BACK TO THE BORDER take a bus from 2nd and Constitucion (one block up the diagonal plaza street from the big arch). Any bus saying LINEA on its windshield and with a guy (or gal) yelling LINEA LINEA at the top of their lungs on the curb.

    TO GO TO THE BEACHES and the bullring by the sea, pick up a Playas #1 bus from 3rd street in front of the tortilla factory shop between Ninos and D.

    TO GO TO THE BEACHES FROM THE BORDER you can catch a bus at the border traffic circle beyond the sea of taxis. The beach busses usually just zoom by, i.e. they don't wait in the big line of downtown CENTRO TERCERA busses, and stop only briefly at the traffic circle. They will say "PLAYAS" on the windshield and #1 is the route that goes by the bullring (a short walk from the point where the border fence plunges into the sea).

    TO GO TO CECUT and PLAZA RIO shopping center (movieplex, shopping) from downtown, catch a bus saying PLAZA RIO or just PZA RIO or just P RIO. They wait on Second by Constitución in front of the LOTTERY window where all the bus musicians hang out waiting to get on and play for tips, then drag down Second toward the river and up the big Paseo with all its trees. Get out at the "Bola" (big brown ball) CECUT or, for the shopping mall, right after the World's Biggest Pair of Scissors and McCoñolds.

    TO GO TO PALACIO, Gardens, and ICBC from downtown catch a bus saying PALACIO.

    Go to Top.

  13. Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada.
  14. Busses to Tecate or Rosarito depart from the old bus station at First and Madero (on the walk from the border to Revolución, after crossing the river and going up the street). They proceed south along Madero until reaching the boulevard, at the old tower park, and then they go southeast along Agua Caliente Boulevard, towards the bullring and beyond into La Mesa past 5 & 10. All along this route, i.e. Madero and then the Boulevard, they will stop to pick up passengers.

    Busses to Rosarito and Ensenada turn right onto the free road south, before the bullring, and go up the long canyon and over the hill south past la Gloria to Rosarito.

    Busses to Tecate do not turn off the boulevard. They continue past the bullring and on beyond Agua Caliente towers and the hipodromo and auditorio and to 5 & 10. From there the Tecate busses either go east along the boulevard, or switch over to Insurgentes, and sooner or later end up entering el Florido.

    Busses to Ensenada depart from the Linea (Border) Bus Station near the border gate, after the island of tacos and sea of taxis. They do NOT get off the superhighway at Rosarito, and only will stop at the Rosarito Toll Gate to let you get off if you ask. Be Warned!

    The bus trip to Ensenada is scenic and enjoyable, after the first part dragging through Tijuana and over the hill toward Rosarito (where they will not stop). After that, the bus gets on the scenic superhighway and cruises above the sea... mmm what a view. The ocean is on the right going south, and on the left coming back north.

    There are several (like three) bus stations in Ensenada located between ten and fifteen blocks from the waterfront. Make sure you know where Yours IS when you get off!!! Especially if you bought a round-trip ticket! You will need to go to the Right Station. Competing bus companies will most Probably NOT honor tickets from Other Companies.

  15. Points Beyond.
  16. The bus services between Tijuana and mainland Mexico, and the peninsula, are many.  There are dozens of bus companies with private stations out there in the streets around town.  We only know one - Nayarit Autobuses, on Eighth by Pio Pico, with pleasant enough people, from the talk and the look of them getting on and off. The busses go as far south as Tepic (and maybe Guadalajara?) and appear to be first class service.

    There are literally dozens upon dozens of small "unofficial" stations like this all over town, offering first and second class services into further Mexico.

    There are several official bus stations in Tijuana.  The Camionera Central de Autobuses or Cam Central, is located out on the edge of hell and gone from downtown, more than halfway toward the edge of the megalopolis, and this, too, is Mexican, to have a new central bus station located on the periphery of town. The word "central" seemingly does not refer to the center of town, but rather to a "central" point where all passenger busses can come together in one huge terminal. Oddly enough, this location, six some miles from the old downtown and the border, is probably where the original Indian village and Rancho of Tijuana was located (it was not where the founders later built the town), near the joining of two branches of the Tijuana river, in the greater valley of La Mesa. Small historical digression here. Don't bother looking for any old adobe buildings or stick huts. You might, however, be able to see the giant Jesus statue over there on its hilltop....

    The Tijuana Central de Autobuses provides services to all accessible points in Baja California, northwestern mainland Mexico, and the United States. Busses break down in the desert at night. Traveling on the frontier is an adventure. Bring water and toilet paper. And money. Speak the language and get change back more soon now. CITY BUSSES from the border or downtown to this Bus Station will say CAM CENTRAL or CAMIONERA CENTRAL on their windshield.

    The "Old Central Bus Station" la vieja central está en la avenida Madero y la primera avenida puente México sí. Services from the old bus station downtown at Madero & Primera (a block down the big fancy sidewalk street from the huge metal arch) include busses to Rosarito and Tecate as well as occasional border shuttles and (rumor has it) some services into deeper Mexico but We Cannot Guarantee That. ONE REASON WE like to drop by this old bus station is to look at the mosaic mural map on the wall, which shows the old Tres Estrellas de Oro bus route from Mexico City to Tijuana - a veritable statement of power linking the capital with the frontier. Ahem amen. It's right on the walk into downtown from the river.

Tijuana Gringo

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Copyright 2001-2004 Daniel Charles Thomas all rights reserved under U.S. and Mexican law and all applicable international treaties. Written in both Mexico and the United States and published and read WHEREver You ARe rIgHt nOw.
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