“Twice I’ve had to go up to Las Casitas, at the top of La Vega, in a truck. I hold tight to the railing because I’m scared.”

But how do you do that while carrying several bags of groceries?

“Those up there lend us a hand. I have to make the sacrifice. Otherwise I have to wait a long time at the bus stop and I can’t arrive that late, it’s too dangerous.”

Esperanza González works in downtown Caracas and she’s headed to La Vega parish on a camionetica. The trip takes over 40 minutes. Once she’s in the redoma of La Vega, she takes another bus and that’s another 30 minutes to her house.

But things have been getting worse due to lack of public transport.

Now, if there are no buses, she climbs on a truck that makes the rush-hour trip from the redoma to the top side. This is what they call “perreras” (kennels) in other parts of the country; passengers are literally hanging from the railings and shout “parada” when they approach their stop.

Drivers charge whatever they want for this service.

“The first time, I paid Bs. 300 to go up and Bs. 500 to come back down” Esperanza says, still amazed by the feat. “Imagine how my family in Colombia will look at me when I tell them we’re using kennels.”

“Those up there lend us a hand. I have to make the sacrifice. Otherwise I have to wait a long time at the bus stop and I can’t arrive that late, it’s too dangerous.”

In Caracas, where transport is grouped in five blocks for a total of 327 bus lines, 40,000 units are currently out of order.

The causes: scarce and expensive parts for a guild that doesn’t get foreign currency since 2007. In early October, the union warned that over 90% of buses would go on a technical strike and halfway through the month, they announced a fare hike from Bs. 280 to Bs. 700 in some routes, and others may even charge Bs. 1,000.

Bus drivers unilaterally imposed the new fare since the government’s pays no mind to the issue, and it’s passengers who must pay Bs. 2,800 for four bus rides a day, Bs. 14,000 a week and Bs. 56,000 a month. In public transportation only.

Forced to walk

This adjustment won’t solve the crisis, and users see their salaries go down the drain and their shoes damage- if there are no buses or “kennels,” they’re forced to walk to their destinations.

People in low-income areas already making the trip up and down on foot. “I have to take my girl to school, come back home and then pick her up. I spend a lot of time waiting in bus stops and when a car finally arrives, the driver charges whatever he wants. I decided to walk, as long as I feel safe, because that’s another problem.”

Hugo Ocando, representative for the Association of Bus Drivers of Western Caracas, estimated a near 100% service shut down by the end of the year. The government is offering them tires that won’t be enough for the current demand, while they can be found in the black market for more that six million bolívares.

As buses end up in workshops and parking lots, kennels a la cubana, are getting traction in Venezuela’s capital.

23 COMMENTS

  1. 7,699,305% devaluation in the Bolivar since Chavismo. (44,348/,567)

    I wouldn’t accept that as currency if it were to scrape gum off of my shoe. I’m surprised the whole of the country hasn’t set up a vast barter system.

    I imagine that Maduro will insist that vile Capitialist speculators and criminal mafias are “hoarding buses” to cause such economic chaos. But fear not! Delcy will demand that a special ad hoc committee be set up in Miraflores to look into such things, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice! Jailed first. Perhaps given an arraignment. But FOR SURE justice!

    • It really bothers me how much everything is subsidized in Venezuela. That ride is approximately one U.S. cent. The only reason it’s possible, is that gasoline is almost free. I don’t know anything about the costs of truck maintenance, tires, and so on. The economics are that internal production makes for prices. If a country produces an equilibrium, or even a surplus, then wages should cover costs of living. Published numbers suggest that Venezuelan production, GDP or Producto Neto Bruto, has declined by at least 30% in the past two or three years. My guess is that it’s a lot lower than that. For all the obvious ills and crimes of the regime, one thing not fully accounted for is that they are practically giving away everything – until of course the bond payments take seniority. Very, very rough guesswork on my part, but it seems like the transition period through socialism back to free markets may be at least a decade long. I don’t know if the paid advisory started by CC covers this, but it would be nice to get some data out so that those not trying to dig for it themselves could get an accurate picture. If free markets were suddenly established for all goods and services, everything would be at black market prices – and higher – and that would be totally unaffordable for the majority.

      • The rentism, statism, and centralism in Venezuela owes a lot to the prosaic marxist leninist left for sure, but for decades past it has also owed a lot to Crony capitalism or lets say, “controled market capitalism” or plain old monopoly

        There`s a handful of families well known to venezuelans who have always used the venezuelan market as a feudal domain for themselves. They have played ball with the government and the government offers subsidies, all else outside the circle crumbles.

        For years there have been active collaboration in destroying national production in favor of imported goods since the business in foreign currency yields more money for less investment than producing goods in the country.

        “Manufacture:out
        Foodstuffs: out
        Lets import everything ready made! with state subsideis no less ”

        When PDVSA bonanza was at its peak subsidies rolled in, the crony businessmen imported their goods with state winking at them and the prices were affordable for the population.

        Few decades later when the piggy bank is broke and the BCV is out of printing money. Government and cronies are fatter than ever in the feudal domain paying miserable wages to professional workers, they pay shit for services like gasoline and electricity, no taxes and no accountability, and people are taking the blunt of not having a self reliant economy or having economic independence.

        Venezuelan politics and economics mix the most toxic aspects of bost socialism and capitalist systems, all for the benefits of self interested crooks and the military.

        • Vero – So the petroleum bonanza was used in socialist manner to import goods and dump them on the capitalist market – below the costs of production of domestic goods, and in the meantime somehow siphoning off some of that money into private accounts (as detailed in CC referring to the purchase of CLAP products)? And other abuses of capitalist markets such as insider bond trading? And of course nationalizing industries and letting them rot, such as the sugar and steel production, and precio-fixing below production cost. Couldn’t be worse if they had done it intentionally … oh, wait …. (Btw – PBN is correct, producto bruto nacional. I was a bit tired.)

          Free market economies aren’t perfect, but they’re generally much smoother in function and lower cost because you don’t get the huge layer of bureaucracy that has to be paid for. The openly socialist states do not do as well as free market ones, and rely on free market mechanisms to sustain them, then claim they are socialist successes (which they are not). The major problems come in with the attitudes of the population that develop, that they have “rights” as if they were prized children of wealthy families (the state), impose and enforce, and you get bizarre regulations and very high youth unemployment rates, and general flojera de mente in populations like we’re seeing in Greece and Sweden and Spain and so on.

          • Massive, systematized and encouraged corruption is a problem regardless of state economic policies/laws. Venezuela just has awful policies and regulations and is massively corrupt.

    • What’s crazy is that the currency is worthless but there’s so little of it that you can actually sell cash for 25% above face value. I had a guy tell me the other night that in Maturin they’re selling cash for 40% above face.

      We’re operating like a bank here…….accepting transfers and giving out cash, even accepting cash and wiring the money to the owner’s account. All with a service fee of course.

      Just when I think the country can’t get any worse, it collapses a little more.

      • Oh, MR – that’s just the ultra sophisticated refinement of rare currency collection that super-wealthy societies are able to support! These are expressions of love for the artistry of the currency, along with other arts such as symphony orchestras, ballet, opera, museums, and other permissible indulgences. The massive participation is solid evidence of the patriotic incentive and recognition of the valuable heritage of the currency, preserving choice samples for posterity. The same would be done for colas sabrosas, and precios justos, but those can’t be put in museums because they are living things, events of the people in action, so we only can preserve the pictures of them. (I am channeling Delcy this morning, apparently.) Many samples of the CLAP bags will be dipped in clear amber, and preserved for posterity, though, enshrined in museums to show the glory of “the Early Days of Struggle” that eventually lead to the wealthiest nation in the world. (There – I snapped out of channeling Delcy and picked up Rodney Dangerfiled – QPD – the king of biting sarcasm.)

  2. You should have seen the infamous “rapiditos”, which were old sedan type cars that proliferated for the last 15 years as the favorite means of transport by the transport syndicates because they were hilariously cheap to get and the subsidized parts were quite easy to find, but resulted in a nightmare for the rest of the population since they did everything the kennels described in the article did, they charged more than the “standard fare” using as excuse that because they had less seats they had to make up for it by charging more, and if they belonged to a line they never respected the full routes, leaving many people stranded and walking kilometers to get to their destinations.

    So yeah, the public trasnport problem isn’t new in Venezuela, it has about 15-16 years going on since the chavista government decided to have the transport syndicate as an ally to stop any attempts to create a general strike in the country to oust the dictatorship.

  3. Let’s face it, in these troubled times you are forced to make tough decisions, like, 1) buy spare parts for buses, or, 2) pay off bondholders.

    • Lorenzo, I would add, 3) food for the masses….but since they supported Maduro with 54% of the vote, I’m guessing food is no biggie.

      • yep, some of the 54% had to sift through garbage to find some food in order to have the strength to cast proudly their vote in support of the PSUV. I learned all of that information right here at CC, the majority vote, the garbage and the legitimate PSUV victory.

  4. So now that is happening in Caracas it makes the news? Perreras have existed for more than 10 years. Caracas es Caracas y lo demas es monte y culebras. Same reason the electrical and fodd disaster did not exist until it affected Caracas. Pathetic.

    • I also raised my eyebrows a little at the Caracas part, because it’s also more or less a brand new issue here in Aragua. The transportation crisis in full is hitting the whole country.

    • Is the article denying the existence of this problem in other parts of the country?

      No. It’s simply reporting on a situation, as all articles do. You may not have noticed but a lot of people have left the country in recent months, which means finding people who can write from other states is rather hard. So, since we can only report on the situation in Caracas, we report on it. Don’t like it? Don’t read.

  5. Its a question of time until the converted pickup trucks will start having problems with worn tires, overheated engines (uphill driving with full + extra load), leaking radiators, etc. so they too will stop one by one …

    • Yup. I saw one the other day here in Turmero, Aragua State that had so much people on the back that you could practically hear the engine crying.

      • ABG, mentioning the engine crying reminds me that as expensive as cars are here, and how hard it is for one to save up the money to buy one, it never ceases to amaze me at how many of the owners treat their vehicles like they’re driving a rental.

        They’ll either drive snot-slingin’ drunk and wrap it around a tree or wind the gears out to the max and blow the motors because they refuse to change the oil.

        Easy come easy go I guess. LOL

  6. This has been happening in other cities of the country for decades. The Venezuelan “public” transport system was designed to humiliate and shame people into buying a car. Nobody advocated for or supported a better or at least decent public transport, some even actually fought against it (i.e. Ciudad Guayana unions required a city with a bad system in order to have a fair claim to a “transport bonus” that years ago was enough for many of the basic industries’ employees to buy a car)
    …now we have no public transport and no cars. Way to go Venezuela.

Leave a Reply