Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Day the Buses Stopped Running

As well timed as any industrial action by French air traffic controllers, the Portillo bus company employees went on strike today, bringing coastal bus services to a halt and stranding thousands of tourists and working folk alike up and down the coast.

I went up to the Marbella bus station this morning to check it all out and noted the police cars parked at the entrance, the demonstration banner and the very serious looking local policemen inside watching carefully for any problems from the picketers.

As I left I spoke to a woman next to her suitcase hop¡ng to catch the Malaga airport shuttle bus.

"How are we meant to find out if there will be a bus to the airport at 11am if they don't tell us anything?"

I assured her there would be no bus at 11am and she went off to the nearest cash point at the petrol service station next to the bus station for money for a taxi.

I went back again this afternoon and found these three pleasant Canadian fellows you see in the picture to pose for me. They had been trying to get some sense out of the monolingual sales clerk and get tickets to the Prado de San Sebastian bus station in Seville.

"Take a taxi from here to Fuengirola to the train station, a train to Malaga station and then a bus or a train to Sevilla. " I advised them.

I asked them to check in later to see their picture, it didn't seem right at the time to ask them to smile.

Stop Press Thursday 7th August: This morning on the way up to Ronda to take photos and add to my gomarbella information winding my way up the curves I got stuck behind one of the yellow Los Amarillos buses which operate services from Sevilla down to the Costa del Sol stopping at Ronda bus station and which would still have been operating on the day of the strike. After looking at the back of the bus for about 10 minutes before I could overtake, I realised I had forgotten to mention this option to our Canadian visitors. Really sorry about that guys. How did you get on?

Good News Wednesday 13th August: The weeklong strike finished today. The Portillo bus company employees have got a pay rise, two consecutive days off every week, a break between trips to go to the loo and a promise from their employers to renew the Portillo bus fleet - that's actually good news for all of us.

I went up to the Marbella bus station today again to check things out and the atmosphere was a lot happier. There still wasn't any paper in the gents loo however, that's just one of my measure of passenger care!

PS: You can now do online bus ticket reservations through the gomarbella reservation system.

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Friday, 1 August 2008

Malaga Airport Bus

"What time's the next bus back to Marbella?" I was phoning my wife as I went through the passport control right next to the airport concourse this morning. Back home on her computer she had already consulted the Malaga airport to Marbella bus station schedule linked to the day's airport arrivals and departures page so she knew exactly where I was. "It's at 1.00pm!" I had 5 minutes. With only hand luggage I made a break for the airport bus stop

I had intended to stop and look over the Malaga airport car rental floor downstairs from the ground floor arrivals level but the airport bus to Marbella bus station waits for no one so I left this for my next visit to the airport and raced through the baggage reclaim area, turned right and then right again and emerged in the 32º heat and noise of the covered taxi and bus pickup zone.

My bag was about the last one on board and even though I am always telling travellers who ask "Where do I buy tickets for the Malaga airport bus?" not to be polite when it comes to getting on the bus, I found myself the last one on board. Apart from about five empty seats covered in bags or newspapers with their owners in the adjoining seat studiously averting their eyes from mine (We all do this don't we?), the bus was full.

I took the picture from where I stood at the back of the queue because it shows the airport bus on the left and the L19 bus service just in front, about to pull out from the bus stop. The twice hourly L19 bus takes travellers right into Malaga city centre and also to the main Malaga bus station which is right next to the train station. On the door of the airport bus you will see the new fare on the Marbella airport bus door, it's 4.26 euros one way from the airport to Marbella bus station, an absolute bargain for the non stop 45 minute journey. Stop Press: As at November 2012, the fare varies between €7 and €8.

When I got off the bus in Marbella I asked the pleasant young driver if the airport bus was ever full and if he had to leave passengers behind. He said it had only happened around midday in the summer and not every day. I wondered if gomarbella was responsible for the increasing use of this service, I guess so. I am sorry about that and the only thing I can suggest if you find the bus is full, is wait for the next one, which won't take long in the summer or hire a car!

PS: You can now do online bus ticket reservations through the gomarbella reservation system.


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