Sunday, June 16, 2013

33: There's Always Room for One More on the Minibus

This is a minibus. 

AKA a rutiera, maxitaxi, or marshrutka. In general there are seats for about 12-16 people and are the chief mode of public transport for the majority of Moldova's population. If you plan on a long trip you can rest a little easier taking the minibus since tickets are sold at the bus station for each seat and the bus always leaves on time. Minibuses are not only for long distance travel though as they are the main mode of transport inside the capital city as well. However, these minibuses operate much differently. Instead of buying a ticket and waiting at a station you simply wave down any bus that passes you by and jump inside. Unlike on a long distance ride, minibuses in the city are usually filled to overflowing with upwards of 30 people at time getting on and off as they please. Air conditioning or even an open window are pretty hard to come by and the heat is always made that much worse as the bus stops over and over to keep picking up another person. No matter how packed or crammed the bus might appear to be there is always room for one more. But for 30 cents a ride and on demand stops you really can't complain.

The North Station in Chisinau

The minibuses aren't without their entertainment. Watching the bus driver at work is like watching a skilled craftsman. Distracted driving is not so much a habit as it is the form of driving that every bus driver has mastered. Here's an example that I've seen a few people pass around on Facebook:

Drinking a cup of coffee and driving with one hand, collecting money from passengers with the other while also smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone. 

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