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The Bus system in Puerto Vallarta might best be described as "Eclectic". Buses of all shapes, sizes and decoration cover all of PV and are very inexpensive. That said, it is very efficient if not luxurious. One route for tourists is from the Marina Hotels and Condos to downtown and vice versa. If you are traveling from town back to the Marina, make sure that somewhere in the many words and pictures decorating the front window you'll see "Marina" at the top destination window of the bus, some busses will have Marina on the windscreen, but do not go into the Marina hotel area. Bus stops are generally well marked and the buses usually operate on about a 15 minute interval. Late night it is better to take a taxi as most routes stop around 10:30pm.
Buses in Puerto Vallarta are very high off the ground; hence, getting on and off can be difficult for the elderly or someone with bad knees, weak legs or other mobility difficulties. Also, unlike in most buses in the U.S. and Canada, you have to push a button (called a "timbre") for the driver to stop. These are located, usually near the front, near the back exit, and several other places throughout the bus. The doors on the buses have no automatic release mechanism so if a person is slightly slow getting off, they might find the driver closes the door on them before they have exited the bus.
Locals with disability cards are allowed to get on the bus and ask for donations from passengers, also entertainers will sing and/or play a musical instrument for tips.
The 1st two seats, sometimes 4 seats, behind the driver, painted yellow, are reserved for the aged, people with disabilities and pregnant women.
If you are staying in the Hotel Zone, look for buses that contain the listing Hoteles on them.
If you want an interesting side trip with the buses, take the TUNEL bus. It will take you around the city through two tunnels in the mountain, then back in to the city on the south side (Zona Romantica). It does not cost any more pesos. The locals use it more than tourists and it gives you an interesting perspective of life away from the tourist area without having to leave the bus.
Bus Routes: (Bus is Autobus or Camion for locals)
The city and the buse lines are divided by areas. North of the airport is the newer area in the state of Nayarit called Nuevo Vallarta. The area of the city South of the airport is the Marina and Hotel Zone and then downtown Puerto Vallarta. The bus fares to these areas is 7.5 pesos. Further South of the city are the beaches and villages of Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan, which is the end of the line on that route, cost is 8 pesos. No transfers are offered even within the same area. Each bus trip is paid separately. Wal-Mart near the cruise ship terminal is one major meeting point where you change from one bus to another, when travelling to Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias and beyond
For Nuevo Vallarta, as of 2013, the cost of buses to these areas is 12-23 Pesos. These larger and more comfortable (ATM) buses service areas of Punta Mita, Bucerias, & Nuevo Vallarta. The easiest place to get on these buses is Wal-Mart near the cruise ship terminal. Almost all buse routes North or South wind up near or at Wal-Mart. The bus stop in front of Wal-Mart has a gentleman whose job it is to get you to the right bus. Don't be afraid to tell them where you want to go and they'll walk you to a shaded seat and tell you how long you'll wait. Very polite and very simple. Once you're in Nuevo and want to come back, just ask the resort or store where the bus to take the bus or camion to Wal-Mart. Usually a blue sign with the front of a bus indicates the spot.
These are favorite ways to see the city in all it's crowded and fun aspects. The buses travel from the southern part of the city which is the Zona Romantico to north of the city to areas such as Pitillal and Ixtapa. You need to ask the driver if he's going to where you want to go. Although the buses have plenty of key stops written all over the sides and windshields, it's easy to be confused. Note that buses run one after the other and are never more than 10 to 12 minutes apart. In the evenings, they start becoming scarcer and the last buses are at about 10:30 at night although a limited night bus system overnight for late night workers returning home are available it's usually easier to take a cab.
For areas south of the city such as Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan and El Tuito, you need to get to the Romantic Zone - the South Side of town. The Mismaloya / Boca de Tomatlan buse can be caught at the corner of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes Street (4 blocks up from Olas Altas) and cost 8 pesos (about U.S. $ 0.60) in 2014. They come by every 10 to 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes after 6:00PM. The early ones are crowded with people going to work in places south of the city, so it's best to find a bus where they start from, Constitución and Basilio Badillo, one block back from Insurgentes. A last one is also available at 11:00PM.
For the El Tuito and Botanical Gardens Bus, which are clearly marked El Tuito / Botanico and travel back and forth every 30 minutes ( 8:30, 9:00, . . .) during the day, cost about 27 pesos (U.S. $2). Catch this bus at the corner of Aguacate and V, Carranza.
For those arriving to Puerto Vallarta by air, you can hop a bus in front of the airport heading towards downtown and as far south as the Zona Romantico or The South Side. These cost 7.5 Pesos and if you have little luggage, that you can hold on your lap, can get you pretty close to all the major hotels. But you need to make certain it will get you as far as you want to go. Wait for the blue Ixtapa buses and they'll have either the Centro sign or Tunel. These all wind up on the south side of town The only difference is the Tunel buses avoid some of the downtown by way of a by-pass to end up in The South Side or the Zona Romantico.
When you want to head to the airport, if you're in the South Side, Centro, or the Hotel Zone areas, wait for the blue Ixtapa bus, it will have Aeropuerto on the windscreen, cost is the same 7.5 Pesos (U.S. $ 0.55). These buses get very crowded and ask people on the bus if they can let you know when the airport is getting close.