If you are planning a trip to the Yucatan, you might be curious about the best ways to get around in the Yucatan capital of Merida, and whether public transportation in Merida is safe, comfortable, and reliable. Until recently, the public transport network in the city left a lot to be desired and was pretty confusing to navigate as a foreign tourist.
However, the local government have made huge investments in the last couple of years to try and improve local and regional transport links – particularly with the introduction of the electric IE tram, and the Tren Maya train, which connects the city to other parts of the peninsula.
You are in good hands here because I am a Travel Writer who been living in Merida for several years now, and I know my city extremely well. In this post, I will cover Merida public transport and how to get around in the city, as thoroughly as I can.
Using Public Transportation in Merida
First thing’s first is whether or not you actually need to use public transportation during your time in Merida. The city’s network offers a collection of buses and mini vans known as combis/ colectivos, that run between the various districts and barrios, and out to villages on the outskirts of the city such as Cholul and Conkal.
If you are staying in the historic center of Merida, you can explore the central plazas and neighborhoods on foot, while getting around independently is a little trickier if you are based a little further out. Uber exists in Merida, and the app, along with other local ridesharing apps such as Didi and Indrive, are a comfortable and affordable way to get from A to B.
It is generally easier to take a taxi somewhere rather than try and figure out the local buses as there can be multiple connections to get from A to B. However, there are a few exceptions.
Taking a bus to get to Cholul, the beach town of Progreso, the ruins of Dzibilchaltun, the Gran Mundo Maya museum or the Teya train station is pretty easy and affordable.
Riding the New Merida IE Tram
The new Merida IE tram is a network of 100% electric trams, that run on five different routes through the city center. The project is the first electric tram network of its kind in Latin America.
It was introduced after a local governor pitched the idea to his coworkers in the Yucatan government based on the electric trams he saw in Europe. As of 2024, only two of the five routes have been completed, with construction underway on the other three.
Right now, you can take the “green route” IE tram (linea 3) from the Tren Maya Estacion Teya in East Merida to Parque a la Plancha in the historic center. These sexy electric buses are the cheapest and most convenient way to get from the center of Merida to the Tren Maya station. The buses depart every 15 minutes and the journey takes approximately 28 minutes.
Linea 2 (the orange route) from La Plancha to Kanasin is also in operation. Since this project is a major priority and construction happens fast in the Yucatan, all five routes are expected to be up and running by late 2024.
You cannot buy IE tram tickets on board and you need to purchase a “Va y Ven” card from one of the machines in Parque la Plancha or from any Oxxo convenience store. Then, scan the card when you are on board.
A card costs 25 pesos and each journey costs 8 pesos. (The ticket machines do not take notes larger than 200 pesos so keep that in mind).
You can also find a “Va y Ven” app for Download on the app store that allows you to check news, routes, and timetables and recharge your card.
The Tren Maya train
President AMLO’s Maya train was finally completed in December 2023 and launched its first voyage on the 15th of the month. The train connects Merida with Cancun, Campeche, and dozens of interesting pueblos and Mayan archeological sites around the Yucatan.
The train station was initially going to be built at Parque La Plancha, in the center of Merida, but locals petitioned against it, so instead, it was built on the eastern outskirts of the city in Teya. The cheapest and easiest way to get between the center of Merida and the Teya train station is to take the IE tram.
You can take the train if you want to go to popular places like the yellow city of Izamal, the world-famous ruins of Chichen Itza, Cancun Airport, or Lake Bacalar.
Taking buses in Merida
You may be interested in taking buses in Merida if you are staying on the outskirts of the city or visiting residential areas for any reason. There are a couple of ADO bus stations in Merida – ADO Centro in the historic center, ADO Paseo 60 adjacent to the swanky new gourmet food hall of the same name, and ADO Altabrisa in the Northern part of the city.
However, the buses that depart from these stations are mostly for intercity routes to other places in the Yucatan.
A couple of bus companies operate on innercity routes in Merida including F.U.T.V, Rapidos de Merida and Alianza de Camioneros.
To get inner city buses, it is mostly just a case of rocking up at the correct bus stop at the side of the road, waiting and purchasing a ticket from the driver. To do this, you need to ask local friends/staff at your hotel, so that you can understand what bus departs from where.
Merida buses vary substantially in terms of age/standards/quality.
Some of the buses on the road are modern, new and air conditioned, whereas others in the poorer, southern parts of the city often look as though they should have been sent to a junkyard years ago. They let out bellows of black smoke, do not have air conditioning, and the seats are often wonky or loose.
At rush hour, it is not uncommon for the bus to be overloaded with people that pour into the aisles. In many ways though, this is all part of the experience.
Useful tips for taking buses in Merida
Some useful tips for taking buses in Merida are summarized below.
- A one way journey on any Merida bus is just 8 pesos. ($.0.46). This is a flat rate (“Tarifa única”) and is the amount you pay no matter how short/long your journey is
- You cannot buy a return ticket, you just need to buy two singles from the driver
- Try to have exact change where possible, and definitely don’t try and pay with large 100 or 200 MXN notes or your driver won’t be able to give you change
- Bus destinations are painted on the front window so you can double check you are boarding the correct bus before you take off
- Press the button when you want to get off the bus in the same way you would elsewhere. Stops are not announced, so keep an eye out of the window/on Google Maps
- You can only get off a bus at a designated stop, but if you are on the road in the vicinity of where a particular bus usually stops, you can often stick out your arm to stop it and hop on board
Combis (Collectivos) in Merida
Minivans in Merida are known as “combis” but you may know them as “collectivos” if you have seen similar little buses elsewhere on your travels. These little vans run on a set route through certain neighborhoods, in a similar manner to a bus.
The only difference is that they wait until the vehicle is full to leave. They often run more often that buses, and you will find many of them parked up and ready for boarding close to Plaza Grande (the main square/”zocalo” of Merida), and Parque San Juan.
Since it can be awkward to know what combi you can take where, where they depart from and the times that they run, it is once again a matter of asking around and then remembering the route. These timetables are not published anywhere online and are subject to change at any moment.
Taking the Bus from Merida to Progreso
Merida does not have a beach of its own, although the gorgeous whitesand Yucatan beaches of the Ruta Esmerelda (Emerald Coast) are just over an hour north. Many of them are a little tricky to get to unless you decide to rent a car in Merida, which is not as intimidating as it may sound once you leave the chaos of the city limits and the periferico.
The closest beach town to Merida is Progreso, which is a popular place for locals to flock to on Sundays when they are off work. During the week, Progreso is fairly quiet and you will often find that you have entire stretches of coastline all to yourself.
This is a nice place to spend an afternoon if you just want some R&R by the sea.
You can easily take the Autoprogreso bus from Calle 62, #524 in Mérida Centro. You can purchase your ticket from the office inside – a one way ticket costs 21 pesos while a return is 42.
Buses run every 20 minutes from Monday to Saturday, and are hourly on Sundays.
Final thoughts on taking public transport in Merida
I hope that this article has made you feel a little more confident about using public transportation in Merida. If you really get lost or confused and all else fails, ask locals for advice (it is really helpful if you can speak a little Spanish). Yucatecans are generally very friendly and accommodating people who are happy to help.
I would also strongly advise you to invest in a Mexican SIM card if your cell phone plan does not include Mexico. (Many US and Canadian plans do). That way, you can stay connected and always use Google Maps to check where you are, and Google Translate to help you communicate with locals.
Taking buses and combis here can take a bit of getting used to. However, with the introduction of the IE tram and the Tren Maya, getting around in Merida and the wider Yuctatan area is getting easier with each passing year.
Have any further questions or concerns? Please do not hesitate to drop me a comment below or connect with me via social media or email.
Safe travels and enjoy Mexico! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo