It’s hard out here for a rapidito…

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In cities like Barquisimeto, public transport means more than just buses. Some routes are covered by what’s known here as carritos por puesto or rapiditos: passenger cars that follow a fixed route much like a bus would.

Most of them are from the 60’s and 70’s, including station wagons like the one on the picture. Going around the city in the back of one of those cars is a true Venezuelan experience.

Of course, it’s an absurdly inefficient form of public transport, but that is the reality we’re stuck with today. Today, rapidito drivers are facing more problems than ever before. Spare parts are scarce and those still available are getting more expensive. What’s behind all that? Mision Cadivi.

The rising wave of criminality is also hitting them hard too. A group of carrito drivers halted all traffic in North Barquisimeto recently to protest the lack of protection. Robbers are now kidnapping their vehicules and holding them for a ransom that can reach BsF. 10,000 (10 million of the old ones). They’re threatened if the police is involved.

Meanwhile, Transbarca (a rapid bus system, pretty similar to BusCaracas) could pick up again because Chavez promised it weeks ago. The project is being audited and the Chavernment has just named a new head. After Lara Governor Henri Falcon switched sides, the project (started when Falcon was the Mayor) was taken by the Transportation Ministry.

The buses bought for Transbarca were kept for years in the local Air Force Base (the picture was taken there by a source) until a short time ago, when they were moved to the city’s train station nearby.

It took a tightly-contested presidential election to finally get this thing going…