Maybe you´re from a large city in the States, where you use the L or something all the time. Or maybe you’re like me and have no idea how to find what bus will take you to the right part of San José, much less, find that bus in Spanish!
No worries. You see, I (a girl from Northern Wisconsin, not exactly a metropolitan area) have successfully braved subiendo un bus. I even made it back home!
Here´s the secret: ask Ticos.
How do you ask?
Necesito ir al – I need to go to (for example, el Parque Central where there are lots of shops and sodas (little restaurants)).
¿Dónde está la parada del bus para el Parque Central? – Where is the bus stop for el Parque Central?
¿A qué hora viene? – What time does it come?
Who do you ask?
Definitely your Tica family would be a good idea. If you are here through an organization like ISA, CEA or what have you, they would be more than happy to help. Of course, you can also ask at Veritas. And here´s the best part, if you´re already out and need to find your way back home, you can really ask anyone on the street, standing in line, or on the bus (girls, just don´t ask any creeper type dudes).
Make sure you remember what landmarks they give you to describe the spot. Some bus spots have benches, but some have no indicator at all.
Also ask them what will mark the area you should get off at if you are going there for the first time.
How much does it cost?
The bus will have a sign in the lower left hand side of its front window, so you can look as it´s pulling up. It´s usually between 200 and 400 colónes (50 cents to $1). Once you climb in, you hand it to the driver. If you don´t hand him exact change, wait for him to give you your change before you go to your seat.
Which bus do I get on?
Once you get to the spot you are supposed to wait at (which may or may not be marked by a bus stop bench), keep an eye out for the front window of the oncoming buses. Each bus will have 2-5 neighborhood names posted in its window. Once you see your neighborhood name (for example, San José is what you need to get to el Parque Central), get ready to climb on!
Some buses come every 5 minutes, some every 15, for out of area, maybe every 30, it depends.
A few seats are reserved for people with disabilities. They´re usually in the row four or five seats back from the driver. On newer buses, these might be marked by the person in a wheelchair graphic, or the chairs might be yellow or blue or separated a bit from the others.
A general rule of thumb would be if an elderly person can´t find a seat, or a mother with young children, give this person your seat. More so if you´re a guy than if you´re a girl.