Mexico’s bus and public transportation system is one of the best in Latin America, if not the Western Hemisphere, and Chiapas’s bus system is no exception. ADO and its affiliate bus lines practically have a monopoly, but that has not made bus travel any less efficient or less affordable. Dozens of buses cover every major route many times per day, and even smaller towns have frequent and reliable service. Buses come in three main categories:
First class—known as primera clase or sometimes ejecutivo—is the most common and the one travelers use most often. Buses have reclining seats and TVs where movies are played on long trips. First-class buses make some intermediate stops but only in large towns. The main first-class lines in Chiapas are OCC and ADO.
Deluxe class—usually called lujo (luxury)—is a step up; they are often slightly faster since they’re typically nonstop. The main deluxe line is ADO-GL, which costs 10–25 percent more than regular ADO. ADO-GL buses have nicer seats and better televisions (with even more recent movies!). Sometimes there are even free bottles of water in a cooler at the back. Even nicer are UNO buses, which often charge twice as much as regular ADO. UNO offers cushy extra-wide seats (only three across instead of four), headphones, and sometimes a light meal like a sandwich and soda.
Second class—segunda clase—is significantly slower and less comfortable than first class, and not all that much cheaper. Whenever possible, pay the dollar or two extra for first class. Second-class buses are handy in that you can flag them down anywhere on the roadside, but that is precisely the reason they’re so slow. In smaller towns, second class may be the only service available, and it’s fine for shorter trips. The main second-class lines in Chiapas are Rápidos del Sur, Mayab, and AEXA.
For overnight trips, definitely take first class or deluxe. Not only will you be much more comfortable, but second-class buses are sometimes targeted by roadside thieves since they drive on secondary roads and stop frequently.
Wherever bus service is thin, you can count on there being frequent colectivos or combis—vans or minibuses—that cover local routes. They can be flagged down anywhere along the road.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition