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Sic Transit Mexico

This letter is in response to last week’s editorial by Nick Welsh regarding the impending woes of the local MTD bus system. I’d suggest we need a little more free enterprise to deal with the current public transportation needs. Several years ago, I lived and worked in Guadalajara, Mexico – a heavily populated and beautiful city famous for its Mariachi bands and brands of tequila. I was a gringo visitor working as a teacher and studying Spanish. The traffic there looked scary, but the bus system was great.

I think it cost about 20 cents to go anywhere in town and there were buses running literally all the time. It appeared to me that pretty much anyone who had a bus could go into business. They just painted the number 7 or 16 or whatever route they preferred on the windshield, and hit the road. There was no schedule, but there were hundreds of buses. I would walk to the corner and within a minute or two, I’d see the bus I wanted coming along. There was not just one number 6 (the one I usually needed) but dozens. Sometimes the drivers would race each other to the curb to get my business.

Sure, some of the buses were old, smoggy, and loud, but who cares – you got where you needed to go without any excuses. Furthermore, when you climbed up the stairs the driver had a big table of coins and he would give you change! Sometimes I’d have to enter the back door of the bus on busy days, and pass my fare along up to the driver from person to person saying “Pasa uno, por favor.” A few minutes later my change and ticket would come back through the crowd to me.

Okay, so you say: What about insurance, safety, and pensions? Well, the only one I cared about was safety – and I felt plenty safe on one of those behemoth vehicles, compared to the other runts on the road.

That’s what I call good old gumption, and honesty – the kind this nation itself was built on. I don’t want to hear about government solutions; this is an easy enough problem to fix ourselves.

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