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Mexican bus service from Austin? Or snowbird rideshare?

I'm trying to research el cheapo overland travel to Mexico and running into some questions that Lonely Planet and the like haven't answered. I'm hoping that someone who knows the lowdown will Google in here. Oh, lazyweb, I invoke thee!

First, since NAFTA it's a common sight to see Mexican bus lines operating in Texas cities. I gather that they offer direct tickets to numerous destinations in interior Mexico. I've done long-haul bus travel in Mexico in the past and it was pretty grueling, with lots of long layovers and unreliable transfers along the way, but the claim is that these lines will let you go to sleep in Austin and wake up in San Miguel or San Luís Potosí (with a 2:00 AM muster for Mexican immigration, I suppose). Have things improved that much since my day?

I've also heard that, thanks to Homeland Security restrictions, multi-hour delays at the border for vehicles entering the US are now common. Therefore it's been suggested that it can be quicker on a return trip to catch a bus to Nuevo Laredo, walk across the pedestrian bridge to the US side, and then catch a Greyhound for points north. Maybe, but that operation sounds like it would be a multi-hour process itself, since neither station is adjacent to the bridge. Anybody have any recent experiences to report?

Another complexity is that there's no central station or source of information on Mexican bus lines operating in Austin. So far I've checked out the one that stops next door to Mr. Natural: Autobuses San Luís, 1907 E. César Chávez, tel. 512-320-0104, with nightly service to Laredo, Monterrey, San Luís Potosí, Querétaro and Celaya. I'm still looking for Autobuses Conejo ("más rápido que el Greyhound"), Autobuses Americanos and any others in town.

Secondly, another rumor is that there are so many expats and snowbirds who travel regularly between Austin and San Miguel de Allende that they have their own rideshare website, or at least their own watering hole on somebody else's site. Any truth to that? I don't see any sign of them on Craigslist.

Finally, it's at the wrong corner of Mexico to do me any good, but someone has set up the ingenious Tijuana Busboard: digital photos of the posted schedules at the Central de Autobuses in Tijuana, BC. Subject to change without notice, of course, but much better than no info at all. If I end up making this trip, perhaps I'll copy the idea and put one up for Nuevo Laredo.

Tijuana Busboard
travel 2004.12.05 link


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