transport | urbanism | adventures | pontification
In the forty days I spent in Panama, I rode a total of sixty different vehicles. Forty-three of these vehicles were diablos rojos (former school buses). I spent almost 24 hours on diablos rojos, riding a total of 411 miles in Panama. The average length of trip I took on these buses was 32 minutes (quite short, given that the average one-way commute time for residents of Panama City is about 70 minutes). In terms of bus bodies, almost all were conventional-style buses, and about half of them were Thomas Built Buses, half were Blue Bird, and one was a Ward Volunteer. Most of the buses had manual transmissions (even the ones that were originally manufactured with automatics). One of the buses I rode down the Transistmica had a female driver, a first for my trip.
I’ve compiled a few statistics on the vehicles in which I traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to the Benque/Melchor border between Belize and Guatemala.
In Belize, I rode 23 vehicles that were formerly school buses, the majority of which (16) were Blue Bird All Americans. Blue Bird was the predominant body manufacturer; I also rode two Thomas Conventionals, one Corbeil Type A, and one Crown Supercoach. In buses, I traveled 753 miles over the course of 35 hours – on average, more than an hour on a bus per day during my stay in Belize. Twenty years was the average age of the buses for which I could determine a model year.