Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bad Review for "Ejecutivo" Tica Bus from Leon, Nicaragua to San Salvador, El Salvador

After my research, I determined the only first class bus from Leon leaving late morning/early afternoon to San Salvador was an "Ejecutivo". The difference between a regular and an Ejecutivo is about 15 or 20 dollars for the same route. It would be 50 dollars without breakfast, 56 with. I would be obligated to buy lunch and dinner whether I wanted to or not. I assumed the higher fare would be for more legroom and more ability to set the backrest further down in addition to the 2 meals. I couldn't have made a worse assumption. But first I want to complain about the "drop off" time at the hotel/restaurant on the highway outside of town. I was told a cab would pick me up at Sonati Hostal where I was staying at 10:30am to drop me off at the highway where the bus originating from Managua would collect me. I didn't pay much attention to when the bus would arrive to pick me up since they determined what time I would be there. I was left along the highway with no place to sit but amongst an aggressive universe of gnats at the edge of a brick planter. The Ejecutivo bus arrived 2 hours and 40 minutes later. I complained to the driver and steward. Both answered gruffly, "Contact the office". They arrived on time apparently. The office leaves you there 2.5 hours early in case the "bus comes early".

Now the real big problem. My seat had much less leg room than any I've ever had on a 1st class bus in my life. I immediately complained as it was obvious that that was not the case with other aisles on the bus. But none were available except 5 reserved behind me for staff on the bus. I was told I could not have one of those. The bus steward had 3 seats for himself. All in aisles with AMPLE leg room, obviously. I made a little measurement with my hands. Almost double the leg room in the row across from me. So I once again complained and the steward admitted that my aisle lacked space. My knees were pressed against the seat in front of me sitting normally. Really horrible considering a 10 hour bus ride ahead at 50 dollars, much more than the "regular" class Tica Bus. But his response was "You picked the seat". Great, as if I would have picked the seat had the agent explained it hadn't enough leg room to fit me. Would anyone pick it ever? So I debated with him a while and he sort of listened to my rant but was not willing to give me one of his 3 seats. He said he needed those to store stuff as he walked around the bus. He stored his backpack on one of the seats throughout the trip and another one remained empty throughout the trip. He used the 3rd seat occasionally to sit in. He looked quite comfortable with the spacious legroom. I don't blame him for not wanting to sit where I was, I envied him his comfort.
3rd complaint: Now that I knew the extra 15 or 20 dollars (regular tica bus is 30 or 35 for the same route from Managua) was not for extra leg room/less seats I deduced it must be for the 2 meals. Meal one was a small portion of Gallo Pinto (Rice and beans) with a bit of chicken and meal 2 was a small Burger King hamburger. Hardly worth 20 dollars I'd say, except maybe in Iceland, where I've heard fast food is outrageously expensive due to strong Icelandic currency.

So the final word from the steward and drivers, "We have nothing to do with the seating problem, contact the office," or "ask the agent when you buy your ticket". Well I did ask an agent at another bus company this happened to me at in San Jose, Costa Rica a while back and he told me "All seats have the same distance between them".

So now I'm going to be very concerned about this when buying my ticket but honestly don't expect it to do much good.

My wish which I tried to convey to the steward was, "Why don't you advise your superiors about physical conditions on the bus". He never accepted that was a good idea, maintaining his role and their role are independent of one another.
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