I decided to brave the bus system and head to school on a Sunday. Here is the 411 on Montevideo bus travel…
If you are planning on coming to Montevideo and you want to take some buses around the city, bring some cash (small bills are better) and a few Spanish phrases. As you get on the bus, you will pay either the driver or another cashier 33 pesos for un hora (one hour). This is good for two rides within the hour. If you are going to be in town for a bit, get a STM card at Cutsca shops in the shopping center. This will give you a discount AND give you an option of dos horas, which gives you the opportunity to ride as many times as you want during the two hours. Simply keep your receipt and show the next driver.
There are several different lines, but the main ones you need to know are urban and suburban. Most likely, you will only be on the urban ones. Suburban are faster and go from the city center out to the industrial suburbs. DM1 (the bus I take to school) is a suburban bus. It costs 58 pesos and is also the one that you take from the airport into the main city.
When you see your bus, be sure to raise your hand like you are calling a taxi. Buses don’t always stop at every stop if they don’t think it is necessary. Do not expect the bus driver to wait until you are seated (or even up the stairs) before he takes off. Although Montevideo has a very relaxed environment when it comes to time, the buses really try to make it to stops when they are supposed to. If you are not prepared for the initial jerk, you may topple over into the first seat. Been there, done that.
I recommend downloading the app Cutsca. It is fairly easy to navigate once you know which lines you need to take to get where you are going. Know that they times are only for when the bus line starts and when they arrive, so if your stop is in the middle of the route, you might have to add some anticipated minutes to the time the bus comes. Most urban lines have numerous buses, so don’t freak if you miss one.
When exiting the bus, you will want to go to the back doors. This helps the flow of entering and exiting passengers. You will have to press the stop button (sometimes a red button that says stop and sometimes a little grey button above the door like a doorbell). If the driver doesn’t see anyone at the stop raising their hand at the stop or get the stop signal on the bus, he will fly right past your stop. The Custca app has GPS, so you will always know where you are on the route. A few streets before your stop, ease towards the back and push the stop button. Exit the bus promptly and enjoy the city!