Thursday, June 23, 2016

When things just work

Here are some Mongolian buses.

Some of them run on gas.
And some of them don't.


Some people are convinced the electric buses aren't as fast.  I don't know if that's true, but they're often less crowded as a result, which is nice.














The buses get their own lanes on main roads, so they are often much faster than taxis.




















There are some salient differences between the buses in Ulaanbaatar and Provo, where I study.

  1. Ulaanbaatar buses come far more frequently.  If you've been waiting for ten minutes, you're probably in the wrong place for the bus you want.
  2. Ulaanbaatar buses are slightly more economic.  You can ride anywhere in the city, bus transfers included, for 0.25 USD (500 MNT).  That is just a bit better than the 2.50 UTA fair.  Just a bit.
  3. Ulaanbaatar buses are faster and more exciting!  Hold on to something if you're not sitting, though.
  4. There are far more bus stations here.  You can expect to find one within reasonable distance of just about anywhere in the city.
  5. Mongolian bus stops have better names.  They are named after whatever area of interest is closest, whether it be the Wrestling Palace, the Dragon Center, or the 25th Pharmacy.
The pros of Mongolian buses far outweigh the cons:
  1. Ulaanbaatar buses are crowded.
  2. They are somewhat less clean.
  3. They're not as good at keeping a schedule.  Sometimes you can see two of the same bus at a bus stop.  But that's ok, because the next one will come in five minutes anyway.  
Last but not least, Mongolian buses have a smart card system that actually works.  The cards are easy to buy, easy to use, and reliable--you can even keep it in your purse or wallet and just hold that up to the reader!  Really, a little work of art, and all with a nice Mongolian interface.

















Sometimes it seems like Mongolian buses shouldn't work.  They keep routes but no particular schedule, zoom in and out of traffic, and their drivers always to be in some state of discontent.  And yet they work perfectly well, in that they satisfactorily serve their purpose.  It's really nice when things just work.

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