Colectivos are the most affordable form of transportation in Latin America. These shared taxis, minivans, and buses are a great way to get around town and reach attractions outside the city. At times finding the right colectivo on a busy street can be overwhelming. But, all you need to do is look at the signs on the dashboard to see which neighborhoods the colectivo is en route to. After reading these colectivo rules, you’ll feel more comfortable using them and hopefully you won’t be the gringo slowing down everyone’s commute.
1. Greet the other passengers when getting on board
This is a common practice when boarding public transportation in most of Latin America. A simple “buenos dias” will do the job.
2. Keep your backpack on your lap
The vans fill up to the brim and you don’t want to catch the ire of others by taking up extra space by putting your backpack on the seats.
3. Speak up when you want to get off
Colectivos don’t always have fixed stops per se. When you want to get off firmly say to the driver, “voy a bajar”. This will let the driver know to stop at the next corner.
4. Be ready to pay
Don’t be the gringo who grinds the van to a halt fumbling through your coins. Ask the person next to you how much the fare is and have your coins ready.
5. Tell the driver if you need change
The final step to riding a colectivo is the most important. Tell the driver what denomination you’ll be paying with if you need change. For example, if it costs 5 pesos and you have a 10 peso coin. Say “cambio por diez” when you’re getting out of the van. This will alert the driver to have a 5 peso coin ready when you pay via the passenger side window.