Tijuana is a huge city with multiple modes of public transportation, many
of which radiate from the downtown center - el centro - but the "linea"
glorieta traffic circle, just inside the border gate, is also an important transit hub, very convenient for travelers who just crossed over from el otro lado the other side. There be a plentitude of busses going downtown from the border/linea stop - complete with shouting hucksters at their door, "Centro, Centro, esto se va al Centro directo ya se va!". The bus fare downtown is fifty-five cents, or fifty, depending on the rate of exchange (which is fluctuating) or, in pesos, five-and-a-half.
FYI: There are also big intercity busses going out of town from the linea terminal located right here.
residents use public transit in all its shapes and forms on a daily basis. Big blue city busses (some equiped with doodly-bobbers and blinking disco-lights or black-lights [can be very strange but beautifully different, other] and tinted windows no we're not kidding) down to smaller, old schoolbus types, and then minibusses and vans called calafias and sometimes mispelled as calfia in the name painted on the side. Mexicans are often painting and lettering things with their sometimes quite handsome handwritten script.
Then there are taxi fleets of station wagons crammed full of riders. That's a whole other story altogether.
All this tangled web goes weaving criss cross across the sprawling megalopolis all throughout the day from five a.m.ish to eight or nine p.m.ish, crowded calafias and burras and taxis and minipanels crawling up and down the hillside rampas, twisting around through canyons, zooming and screeching along the boulevards, or then they sit, stuck, in rush hour hora de pico (we think that's the word) traffic. Beep beep beep beep beep. Beep beep!
That's all day long. The busses and minibusses taper off after seven and generally stop running around nine o'clock at the latest. A few ruta taxi routes go long into the night [but there are always especial and libre taxis prowling or waiting on or near Revolution, or over near the border, or cruising the main streets and boulevards looking for drunks and others who need rides home or to the border.
If you speak a little Spanish, then you can probably find your way across this town via public transit. If you don't understand a word of it, well, then we heartily recommend the more expensive taxis, either the big comfy especiales or less-so libres. The especiales in particular tend to cater to foreigners and many speak good English, most a little.
By the way, there is a real political struggle going on involving the libre taxis so don't be surprised if your taxi gets attacked by another taxi in the street. What? You never heard of Road Rage in Los Angeles or freeway snipers back east? Come on. Go bowling for Columbine if you think any place is any different than any else. It is different but that's not beside the point. Por aquí serán monstruos.
All seriousness aside, now, for your realtime reference and virtual
armchair journeys Here You Can Choose in this city to transport yourself via....
Things to See.
Baja California wine
- Taxis de Ruta vs. Taxi Especial vs. Taxi Libre.
A discussion of two different systems of transport:
- taxi especial - special taxis - those big, private taxis
you rent personally to take you and your friends around town or to the
airport, cost five dollars to downtown or Zona Rio/CECUT, ten or fifteen
to Playas, and twenty or thirty dollars to
Rosarito (2004 prices, subject to negotiation - they may (heh!) ask for more).
These are best if you want to stretch out in comfort, have three or
four people (Yes, sit in front, too!) and/or carry a lot of luggage.
- taxis de ruta which run on set routes and people just cram into
them like sardines (seventy cents to a dollar, and more expensive late at
night). Good if you just want to get around cheaply, without carrying a bunch
of stuff, but you should speak some Spanish and be prepared for a truly
cultural experience of the real people here.
- taxi libre a new (2003) metered fleet of smaller, more economical
taxis with meters. Okay if you don't have a group of three or four people and
not carrying a lot of luggage.
- For more details, including routes and habitus-scripts, please to click
away over there to "taxrut01.htm".
Yeah, like then we talk about the busses and minibusses, the burras and
camiones and calafias... that truly grungy and magnificent public
experience of riding around town on
the public mass transit for fifty cents (@ 2004, & no transfers). You can
eat snacks on board (but that can be messy - watch out if it's crowded)
and there's even onboard entertainment: singers and solicitors get on
and off to sell you things and perform for tips.
Once upon a time Carlos Santana did that.
- Walking. You can easily
walk almost anywhere in
the touristic zones and in most all parts of town, but ALWAYS watch your
step: there are uneven sidewalks
and lots of holes to step around. Very good way to see the city close up.
Downtown sidewalks are generally good and lead you to all kinds of shops
and restaurants. Ditto zona rio. There is also nothing like walking in
a shopping mall or street market. The ocean-front malecon in Playas (beaches)
de Tijuana (and another one at Ensenada) are excellent promenades. Then, of
course, there is the traditional tourist corridor: walking
from the border
across the stinky river and
up and down Revolution Avenue. We have explored
that plus a few other walking routes in a little detail at
turinwa.htm . If you please to excuse our poemic digressions eventually you will find your way home again yes.
- Bicycling There are a few bicyclists
here, but they tend to ride tough, sturdy jobs which can handle the dust
and gravel on the street. Mountain bikes or combinations will survive the
test, but you gotta be Street Savvy to manipulate the traffic. Sleek,
delicate racing jobs with razor-thin tires maybe Need Not Apply. Very few (or
NOne) are the bike lanes or special paths like those you will see in states
of the U.S. or Europe. However, the recently partially upgraded
"touristic corridor" for pedestrians is
eminently bikeable in spite of our adverbially qualifying limits. WATCH OUT
FOR TRAFFIC (yeah, tell you something else
you DON'T know eh?).
- Driving As in the U.S.,
having your own car is the status symbol (or necessity) par excelence,
a utility or an unparalleled success signifier only recently equalled
by the ubiquitous cell phone explosion (beam me up Scotty I'm gonna
hurl at all this flaunted consumption and gasoline
fumeism [not to mention autovomit @ our highfalootin language]).
Stop preaching, Danny. Okay, Mikey. That all said, driving is
probably the Most Convenient Way to get around a HUGE City like Tijuana.
But Watch Out, only in L.A. or Mexico City are more cars stolen.
Remember to tip the parking
lot attendant at the free lots outside big superstores or any large
restaurant along the boulevard or in zona rio
(generally fifty cents or a dollar when you leave,
and say hello charmingly when he helps you park - these guys [and women]
are security for your vehicle). Don't be surprised when
barking dogs or passing airplanes set off car alarms. Tijuanenses love
their cars and don't want them to disappear. Check out
other hints and street routes.
- Wheelchair/Disabled. Generally speaking Tijuana
is a town where you will need a car or van to get around. There are NO lifts
on any busses we have seen. Not. The corner curbs Are Cut downtown but most
of those ramps are steep - except for Revolution Avenue, where some curbs are
very chair-friendly. Downtown Tijuana, and the touristic corridor, Are, However,
splendid territory for adventurous wheelchair athletes. We've even seen -
and heard - some power jobs go up the ramps and over the river. Where there's
a will, there's a way: over the river and through the streets, to old T.J.
town you go. But it ain't no ADA certified experience. You be on the frontier
here. But... like we said, wheelchair athletes will enjoy downtown. WATCH OUT
FOR TRAFFIC. Of the cultural institutions/galleries, CECUT and ICBC have the
best accessibility modifications/architecture (ramps, bathroom access), but
Casa de la Cultura has very wicked staircases. We repeat there are NO Lifts
on any busses we have seen.
ON THE OTHER HAND, Tijuana is, possibly, one of the better places to shop
for a walking stick or
cane, especially if you want something folkloric or artesanic. Quite a lot
of tourist shops carry "el baston" in various types of hard or soft wood,
curiously and intriguingly painted and carved by Indian and Mestizo artists
in Tijuana or shipped up from the deep south.
These items (los bastones) are also quite useful for threatening
street dogs who, in some neighborhoods, insist on defending their
territory against intruders, but will often shut up at the mere sight of
a walking stick. Sometimes you don't even have to lift the cane, they are
that smart at spotting one. DO NOT EVER threateningly WAVE A BASTON AT A HUMAN BEING.
Human beings are not animals (with apologies to Mister Darwin who was Right).
You may, however, sometimes wave your baston IF you are waving for a taxi
to stop for you.
- Tijuana Maptext: Layout of City and
Surroundings. Tijuana is a city that was born in a Mexico California
river valley surrounded by canyons and hilltops.
- Getting Out of Town - long-distance busses,
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Copyright 2001-2003,2004-2005 (as revised) Daniel Charles Thomas; email = email@example.com