Ask a Yucateca: Getting Around Mérida on the Cheap

Kanasín native Yesica Benitez explains the realities of local culture to bewildered expats. Email her at

When my foreign friends ask about transportation options, this is the advice I usually share.

Non-nationals in Yucatán used to be almost exclusively clustered in downtown Mérida and at the beach. But that’s changing, especially among younger newcomers, including those with children. 

Now, people from all over the globe can live, work, shop, and play all over the city. For some, this change has happened organically, but for others getting around and out of the “gringo gulch” has been quite the challenge.

Taking a taxi or using a ride-sharing application from time to time is a great way to get to that cocktail party or go grocery shopping when driving is not an alternative, but it gets expensive quickly. 

That brings us to public transit, which here isn’t exactly up to Berlín or Toronto standards, but it has improved over the past few years. This is especially true since the Va y Ven bus network began. Now it added a fleet Ie-Tram electric vehicles. Both are a great way to get around in comfort for just 12 pesos, or roughly 70 cents in the US. The Va y Ven network accepts payment only via a dedicated card. Still, the good news is that they can be purchased at dedicated kiosks all over the city and at convenience stores like Oxxo, Dunosusa, and Willy’s. 

The Va y Ven buses are also equipped with bicycle racks and hydraulic rams, making access for folks with mobility issues much easier. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

One of the best things about the Va y Ven is its free app, which, though only in Spanish, is very intuitive and displays nearby stops, routes, and the location of different buses in real-time. So why not get that card and check it out for yourself? It is quite a good service, and its air conditioner does not hurt either. 

If you want to make your way out further afield, say to Progreso, AutoProgreso busses are quite a good bet. When I was a young girl, my family and I used this service a lot, so I have many fond memories of this particular voyage. These buses leave from their terminal on Centro’s Calle 62 and 66 but makes several pickup stops along the way. The trip from Centro to Progreso takes roughly 1 hour and costs 23 pesos each way, or just under US1.50.

Mérida’s new fleet of Ie-Tram’s look rather modern and have a sleek aesthetic. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Several options are available to get to other cities and towns on the Peninsula, including buses leaving from ADO terminals downtown, Paseo 60, and just behind Altabrisa. At the time, The Tren Maya has also begun offering trips to Campeche and Cancún but will soon start offering stops at cities including Izamal, Valladolid, and Piste (Chichén Itzá). Even greater connectivity around the entirety of the Yucatán Peninsula and even into Tabasco and Chiapas has also been officially announced by the end of 2024 — but whether or not they will be fully operational by then is still an open question.

If you choose to drive, be patient. We Yucatecos have our ways.

Not that many years ago, people would still stop their engine in the middle of the street when spotting a friend to engage in a friendly chat. This is to say that while driving here can seem a bit crazy, just keep calm and avoid honking except when necessary. 

Also, remember that drinking and driving are not tolerated here, and if you are caught, you will spend the night in the drunk tank, and nobody wants that. 

Yesica Benitez
Yesica Benitez
Born in Yucatán, Yesica Benitez Chan is a marketer, avid gardener, softball player, baker, and a great lover of Yucatecan culture and cuisine.
VOTE NOW!spot_img
Verified by ExactMetrics