Sharon Flesher | 1 Aug 17:50 2001

Living car-free in Mexico

Hello all,

I'm in the beginning stages of my research on transportation in Latin
America, and I've received the following response to a query about living
car-free in Mexico:

<<Interesting question. I live in the Lake Chapala area. You can get a but
at most hours going almost anywhere. This includes local or long distance.
the bus service in Mexico is reliable and inexpensive. For long distance
there is regular service, first class, and an executive class. the more
expensive busses have attendents, movies, and restrooms. All the latest
equipment. Nothing like a bus in the states. Local busses are just fine and
the service is frequent. Cabs are also cheap. In Guadalahara, you can go
almost anywhere in the downtown area for $25 pesos (less than $3USD).

: Yes, you can live just fine without a car. The only problem is getting a
cab late in the evening in rural areas. >>

How fascinating. Why is it that the citizens of Mexico, allegedly a
less-developed country than the U.S., have public transportation vastly
superior to just about any location north of the border?

Sharon Flesher
CarSharing Traverse, Inc.
Traverse City, Mich.

Eric_Floden | 1 Aug 19:58 2001


from today's Globe & Mail

"The automobile changed our dress, manners, social customs, vacation habits, the
shape of our cities, consumer purchasing patterns, common tastes, and positions
in intercourse."

- John Keats in The Insolent Chariots (1958)

John Snyder | 1 Aug 20:03 2001

Re: Bicycle Helmets

Recent comments by De about our conformist culture,
Folder Pete's update of the amount spent per annum
on automobile advertising (i.e., maintance of a 
product-class monolopy) and one other thing prompted
me to recall a recent History Channel program about
advertising. The one hour broadcast included an ad 
excutive's claim that advertising's purpose is to 
mold and create culture. The one other prompt, the nearly 
bazaar and potentially tasteless thing? Sunday's Carfree 
digest #539, provided to list subscribers via Yahoo, starts 
out with a car advertisement.

aside: If the inclination and access to a copy of the Old 
Testament exists, you may enjoy reading the short story 
found in 1 Samuel 17. Hope can be like a smooth stone, 


John Snyder

The following clipped material was located using the
site search engine at .


Advertising as we know it today began during the last quarter
of the nineteenth century. If an advertising agent working on
the account of a product such as Quaker Oats cereal in about
(Continue reading)

John Snyder | 1 Aug 20:11 2001

Re: Rust Inhibitor

Ken crafted the words:

"To me, living without an automobile is an enormous advantage because
when I ride to and from town, I have to deal with such problems as cold
and hot weather, strong winds, a hot sun, fog, rain, and even snow. 
That's an advantage? Yes, the forces of Nature empower me. I get
stronger rather than weaker the more I experience, and my life becomes
richer. As Dylan Thomas said, "The force that through the green fuse
drives the flower / Drives my green age." Why should I want to be
stuck in some cocoon before I'm dead?"

Ken, that paragraph is rather profound!!!! Thank you. It's a view point 
I want to shake around in my head for awhile.

Wonder though, if the forces and conditions you mention want to be 
regarded as problems or as something else?

John Snyder

De Clarke | 1 Aug 20:23 2001

Re: Living car-free in Mexico

>> How fascinating. Why is it that the citizens of Mexico, allegedly a
>> less-developed country than the U.S., have public transportation vastly
>> superior to just about any location north of the border?

This reminds me irresistibly of a conversation I had about
5 years ago on a Metro bus traversing the University
campus. There was a foreign lady on the bus who needed
some help finding the correct stop. Turned out she was
a visiting faculty member from Uruguay.

We chatted casually as one does on public transit (one of 
the great losses people incur by car travel, imho, is that
you don't have these chance encounters with interesting
strangers). She said with some puzzlement, "I was very
surprised that your bus service is so... I am sorry, but
it really is not very good. At home I am used to many
more buses, very regular, also very cheap. Here it seems
there are not many buses and it is rather expensive. It
is difficult."

This gave me food for thought for quite some time. Uruguay
is after all not a country we list in the Top Ten advanced
industrial western states -- yet the bus service in my
wealthy American town was inferior to what she had back

We should however note that the massive US advertising
sector has succeeded in planting the lust for automobiles
(Continue reading)

Ken Kifer | 2 Aug 02:03 2001

Re: sharing the road

I live in Alabama, and I ride all over the Eastern United States and
Canada. I have a map of my travels at

In most areas where I have bicycled, no one reacts in any hostile
manner. I consider 99.9% of motorists safe. My only frequent problem
with motorists has been their unwillingness to slow when conditions call
for it. This behavior may usually be due to driving on automatic rather
than an unwillingness to be careful; nonetheless, a few motorists are
quite willing to risk my life to save a few seconds or two.

As for people yelling at me, I have had that happen in a number of
states, but I never pay much attention to it. More of a problem is the
person (or car full of people) that yells and swerves. Often these are
teenagers. For a while, I was attacked every night on the way home by
the same car. I have also had some motorists come up behind me and
blast on the horn. Usually, this is done in an attempt to scare me, but
sometimes the person stays back a distance and really blasts and blasts
on the horn, saying "get off of my road!" -- a behavior I ignore. One
woman stayed behind me for half a mile, blasting on her horn, and I just
continued until she finally passed me. In another case however, the
fellow was hauling a big trailer and couldn't safely pass me; I felt
embarrassed on that occasion.

People who throw stuff seldom hit me because they fail to allow for the
speed of the vehicle.

None of this stuff bothers me very much, because as a teenager, I
started walking instead of taking the bus due to aggressive behavior on
the bus. Whenever the bus would pass, the kids would yell every
(Continue reading)

Dan Kavanagh | 2 Aug 12:27 2001

Re: Mexican Buses

Hello All,

I went to Oaxaca, Mexico a while back and used the buses to get around.
It was chaos to a North American eye, because it was a free market in

We never see the free market in effect in N.A. despite the self
satisfied crowing of the business community here. This is because biz
interests are always stacking the deck in their own favour, and
squeezing out the little guys, the potential other big guys and anyone
else who might try to get a bite of their pie, sorry "market share".

Back to Oaxaca. The bus terminal was a big shed. Inside it was filled
with all kinds of service providers kind of like a flea market, with
tons of stalls. Cool, yummy food and no chains!. Outside there were
spots for at least a hundred busses. It looked like some bus lines
rented a spot to load passengers, those had nice signs. Some had crude
signs and some had barkers, usually the driver or helper. Some spots
looked like first come first serve.

And the busses, what an insane palette of vehicles, Yellow school
buses, GM transit busses, european busses, Greyhound style busses, short
busses, long busses, red busses, green busses, happy, sad, and mean
busses. Types of vehicles I had never seen before in all states of
repair. Some being fixed even as they were loading passengers, by a
harried looking man who turned out to be the driver or owner or even a
passenger who figured out it was in his best interest to help in order
to get the show on the road. Some busses so new they just looked out of

(Continue reading)

Sharon Flesher | 2 Aug 14:49 2001

Re: Re: Mexican Buses

Wow, Dan. This makes me want to move to a "poor" country.

Even with our vast government regulations, it seems we ought to have better
bus service than we do. Most small towns, such as mine, are exceptionally
ill-served. We have two buses south a day and one bus north. To go to
Detroit, a 4 hour drive by car, takes 8 hours -- that's if the bus is
running on time. Often, the bus is as much as 2-3 hours late. Many places
don't have bus service at all. There's a ferry across Lake Michigan now from
Ludington, MI to Manitoc, WI, but you can't get to Ludington except by car.
And Ludington is a large enough city to have its own daily newspaper. Oh,
well, I could go on, but I'm sure everyone gets the point. It's no wonder so
many people have cars.

>From a guidebook on Mexico: "Although most of Mexico's original train lines
still exist, services have dwindled as a result of privatization, coupled
with improvements in the road network. There are very few non-freight trains
running and no first class or sleepers. The only remaining train service is
the primera, which despite its name is closer to second than first class."
The exception, later noted, is a tourist train through the Copper Canyon.

So why does privatization work so well for Mexico's bus system but is such a
disaster for trains? My guess would be the disparity of capital needed to
operate a passenger train vs. a bus service. Of course, the U.S.
long-distance bus service is private, but pathetic. It seems the inter-city
bus system here assumes anyone unfortunate enough to be using the service
has no alternative and will ride the bus and pay the fare no matter how
shoddy the service. That's why, coming home from a trip in April, the Indian
Trails driver -- already more than an hour late when we departed
Kalamazoo -- could detour an entire bus load of passengers to the bus
garage, leave the bus running, and go inside to "change drivers" while we
(Continue reading)

FolderPete | 2 Aug 18:58 2001

rec. vs util cyclists redux

Sorry for the flub.  The $14B figure was correct, but the context is a bit

That $14B was from '98, and the total ad sales was $200B, though that could
(and probably) was worldwide.  I remember seeing the ad total rise and rise
again by 10% each year, so that it totaled $250,000,000 in total ad dollars
worldwide last fiscal yr. (US= ~$150B) (don't have the latest on car ads
portion) (Also not sure if that is just manufacturers, or the whole
manu./parts/dealers/classifieds part of the car economy.  The figure did say
$6,000,000 for the Big-3 (GM, Ford, Deimler/Chrys); again, US or worldwide
for their spending I wasn't able to decipher)

But cars lead the way.  

Followed by P&G and the soap pushers.

Sorry 'bout the confusion

In a message dated 7/31/2001 2:25:02 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Saw in Ad Age last yr that in 99-00, the figure was $14B.  This out of about
?? US $100B or 14%.  

Now on the onehand autos make up 1/6th of the economy.  So their advetizing
is actually less (I thing the figure was for all ads -- glossies,
classifieds, etc, but could not access methodologies) than share of econ.
pie.  Still, they seem to dominate on the choicest spots (back of zines,
prime time, full page ads).  And with limited scope of message can
move minds.

Simon Norton | 2 Aug 19:32 2001

public transport in less developed countries

The experiences of previous list members with regard to Latin America are
matched by those of someone from Russia who once said that the buses in his
country were much better than those in the UK.

I think that one element must be that bus users in developed countries are not
sufficiently demanding because those who are demanding in terms of their travel
requirements will almost all be motorists. While groups like the elderly and
disabled people have mobility needs, I think that there is a tendency among many
transport planners to consider that satisfying their needs is all that matters.
I believe that even if one ignores environmental and congestion problems there
are sufficiently many social problems associated with car dependence to falsify

In the UK rail users are demanding, and there is a determination to ensure that
services improve, though unfortunately this does not yet extend to rectifying
the systemic defects of our present administrative structure.

I suspect that rail has declined in Latin America -- as it did in the UK 40 or
so years ago, though not to the same extent -- because people are saying that
one can use the bus instead. But I think that they will be wanting to reinstate
the lines when oil becomes scarce enough to hit the price of aviation. Long
distance trains would then provide a means of maintaining their tourist
industries, for example.

That said, both rail and bus services in the UK, and as far as I know the rest
of the EU, are streets ahead of anything I know about in North America outside
the big metropolitan areas.

Simon Norton