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Portillo Bus Company Problems


Problems with the Portillo Bus Company

The Portillo Bus Company is the main bus operator on the Costa del Sol although it shares some of its routes and terminals with other bus companies based in Cádiz, Sevilla, Granada and other provinces in Spain.

Portillo is being rebranded as Avanzabus and I am reminded of the Ryanair business model, make money with minimum free customer attention.

This summer August 2011 at the very peak of the travel season, without notice, the Portillo bus site links were redirected to their new website. I received a lot of frustrated messages from travellers unable to find timetables. It showed poor planning and thoughtlessness.

This the bus timetable and information site I am now recommending:

Malaga Metropolitan Transport Consortium (Consorcio de Transporte Metropolitano Área de Málaga)

Portillo has operated its buses along the Costa del Sol ever since I came to Spain, over 30 years ago but its concession is due to end in 2013. Financed in part by a foreign risk capital venture company the company faces strong competition in the next few years from increased train traffic with the doubling of the train line between Malaga past Malaga airport train station to Fuengirola and then the extension of the line from Fuengirola train station to the new Marbella train station and all the way down to Algeciras.

The Andalucia Consumers Union complained in October of 2008 that the Portillo buses are old and that the company hasn't the slightest intention of renewing its fleet or improving its services which have changed very little during recent years despite constant increases in bus fares. The Union added that in many areas the Portillo bus service is the only way for tourists to get around and that they are taking away a very poor view of communications on the Costa del Sol.

The Andalucia Consumers Union is also considering pressuring the Junta de Andalucia for an early cession of the Portillo's bus service concession.

Good reasons then for the bus company's financial backers not wanting to invest heavily in a forward looking development programme. Don't expect the Costa del Sol bus services to improve in the next few years, but if they do, I'll be the first to tell you!

Main Complaints about Portillo Services

1) Timetable: Unreliable with frequent non appearances of scheduled buses despite demand in some areas. Delays may last as long as 45 minutes
This is a typical complaint: My daughter works in Marbella Centro and lives in San Pedro....she is saying that the buses do not seem to be running these days which is giving such a problem....taxis are just to expensive to use all the time, can you advise which no buses run via san pedro, and also how she will find out if there is a strike or just needs to hang on longer for a bus... thank you, any help would be appreciated. You can read my reply on the gomarbella blog "The day the buses stopped running"
2) Buses: Old and in need of modernisation. Years since the bus fleet was last updated.
3) Insufficient Buses: Not enough buses so that passengers are crammed inside or drivers simply pass passengers waiting at bus stops because the buses are full.

Can I still use the bus to get around the Costa del Sol?

Yes, very much so. But if you are working or need to catch a flight, make allowances for delays. If you are going for an all important job interview, don't risk everything on the Portillo bus. Rather take an earlier bus and have time to spare before the interview.

If you are on holiday in the summer, take an extra bottle of water in case the bus sails past you whilst you waiting at a bus stop between Marbella and Fuengirola, or the air-conditioning on the bus is not working.

If you are catching a bus at the Fuengirola bus station or the Marbella bus station or at any of the other Portillo bus terminals, allow 10 minutes to wait in the queue at the ticket office whilst a Spanish speaking ticket office employee tries to explain how to get to La Linea bus station to a Norwegian speaking tourist. You might miss your bus otherwise.
Let me know if I can help you with any travel questions you have. Contact me using the comments section on any of the gomarbella "Spain Now and Then" blogs.
Online bus reservations
Author: Mike Drury - Google+
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