Anything Can Happen on a Urban Bus in Cuba

Miguel Arias Sanchez

A32 Bus in Havana.  Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – Even though we witness things every day that leave us speechless, some things stand out more than others and strike us a little more.

If there is a place in Havana where things like this happen almost every day, then that’s at bus stops or even on buses.

What I’m going to tell you was so unexpected and absurd that it caught every passenger’s attention traveling on the A32 urban bus which was covering the route from Regla bay to Eastern Havana, on an April afternoon.

The driver, a 60-something year old man, seemed quite normal, he stopped the bus and standing up next to the driver’s seat, begins to charge the bus fare; when he finished, he started the bus up again. When he reached the first stop on 27 de Noviembre Street, between Aranguren and Maceo streets, he took a while to open up the back door, people began to ask him to open it at once so they could leave the bus and that’s when something incredible happened.

The bus-driver said with amazing calmness: ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have to open and close doors. Most passengers burst out laughing and comments were flying left, right and center: he’s crazy, what’s going on with this driver? if he doesn’t open it, who will?

When we got to the next stop, he didn’t open the door and people shouted even more things, but this time they weren’t laughing. He opened it and repeated what he had said before, this time more insistent, adding: I’m not transporting “Mongols” here.

Passengers started laughing again, thinking he was a funny guy that nobody could understand, maybe. They even asked him to open the door so some “Mongols” who had got onto the bus, could get off. They shouted at him: give someone else the wheel and if you can’t do your job, etc., and this went on every stop we came to. Almost noone was taking him seriously, although some of us were quite annoyed.

I remembered that President Diaz-Canel had recently checked on the country’s economic activities and said something about the new taxis driving around Havana: we have to improve transport services every day, with the resources that have come, that employees and drivers uphold ethical behavior, come early, leave on time, come back on time and be respectful and ethically sound.

So, I ask: how can a man be hired in a public service that is so critical right now, like transport, and not do his job? What is a bus if its doors don’t open and it doesn’t stop at official stops?

Let’s hope that Diaz-Canel’s words fall on the ears of the officials who are responsible for choosing and approving drivers’ positions, and they choose sound, responsible and ethical people, who offer a service and treat the Cuban people as they deserve, who are ignored most of the time.

Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

2 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen on a Urban Bus in Cuba

  • Miguel, you failed to comment upon why there are new (GAESA OWNED) taxis driving around Havana. It is because Diaz-Canel removed the licences of many of the taxi particulars (private taxis) to increase both the charges made to passengers and the revenue for the regime.

  • It all boils down to elevating people’s s education in civil society interactions. No, Los Gringos- it means foreigner- are not intervening militarily in Cuba. Cuba have never supported terrorists’ organizations depending on who is defining terrorism. If I have to pay more taxes than others in a more privileged position , that is terror applied to my pocket book by my government.

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