Buses of Panama City – Los Diablos Rojos

Los diablos rojos, the red devils, as the buses of Panama City are widely known, were some of the most well-decorated I have seen on my trip.

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Buses of Costa Rica

Unlike in Nicaragua, the majority of the intercity buses I saw in my week in Costa Rica were coach buses (mainly Marcopolo bodies manufactured in Brazil). There were, however, plenty of old school buses being reused as transport for agricultural workers and students. The ones still being used as school buses were well marked with stop signs, etc.

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One of my first weekend trips outside of the Department of Managua was to Las Peñitas, a surfing beach near León. The surf was marginal, but the bumpy ride on the Old Highway on the way there was redeemed by sharing the smooth ride back on the New Highway with a rooster.

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Buses of Managua

Managua is a relatively low-density, sprawling city. After the 1972 earthquake heavily damaged the historical center, rebuilding radiated outwards, with a great deal of construction taking place in outlying lots owned by the Somoza regime. The first old school buses from the US came in the mid-1970s as a response to the earthquake, and their history in Managua is intertwined with the city’s sprawl. On an average day, about 800 local buses are on the road in Managua, transporting 855,000 passengers on 34 numbered routes. While many of these buses are conventional and transit-style former school buses (with back doors added), some are transit buses manufactured by Dyna (in Mexico) or Kavz (in Russia).

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Vehicles of Ticuantepe

Various vehicles that regularly passed by where I was staying in Ticuantepe.

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On my first trip to Nicaragua in 2008, one of our group’s last stops was Masaya’s old market (touristy and quite clean). This time around, I decided to visit Masaya’s new market (local and less clean) and the attached bus terminal on my walk around the city.

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Buses of Honduras

While the fleet in Honduras had its fair share of old school buses from the United States, there were also a number of newer, more comfortable models. Bus and road facilities along the main routes were fairly well developed throughout the country. The Grand Central Metropolitan Bus Terminal in San Pedro Sula, Central America’s largest bus station, even has its own Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Grand Central Metropolitan Bus Terminal:

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Buses of San Salvador

Buses in El Salvador’s capital had some of the most eye-catching modifications I’ve seen yet. Quite a few of the school buses had lifted front suspensions so that they drove down the highways tilted backwards, some nearly to the point of having their back bumpers on the pavement. While I didn’t get the chance to ride on a bus modified like this, I imagine it would make boarding fairly difficult. Other common decorations included Freightliner truck-style spoilers and numerous shark fins; maybe the buses are trying to be scary to discourage extortion?

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