Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Transportation in Salvador

There are a number of transportation options available in Salvador, including taxis, buses and car rentals. The bus fares are quite affordable, although the taxi fares can be quite expensive if one is traveling a long distance. This Salvador Brazil guide provides information about local taxi services, bus information and car rental businesses.

Salvador Transportation Guide
By Air
Locates 30km from the city center, Salvador's Aeroporto Deputado Luis Eduardo do Magalhães has both domestic and international service. You can reach the city via bus or by hiring a car. It's worth seeing if there are airline specials as flying can sometimes be substantially more expensive than the bus.

By Bus
The bus is a cheap and efficient way of getting to and from the city. From Salvador, buses go all over the northeast and to Rio, São Paulo and Brasilia. They all leave from the Rodoviária (bus station) located 8km east of the city center.

By Car
Language is the biggest barrier to driving in Salvador. Although a convenient mode of travel, avoid it if you cannot speak Portuguese. In addition, the roads can be very narrow in certain parts of the town and local drivers are not very considerate towards foreigners behind the wheel.

By Foot
This is the best way to soak in the sights of Salvador. The upper and lower sections are conveniently connected by the Lacerda elevator and cable cars. Strolling through the old city centre is an immensely satisfying experience. Be wary of pickpockets and beggars who often frequent the roads which connect the district to the sea.

By Bus
Buses in Salvador are an efficient and convenient way of getting around. There are a variety of buses operating between all the major destinations and all shopping centres have their own bus stop. The air-conditioned buses charge more, almost double the standard rate, but can be a relief on a hot day. The best thing would be to inquire at your Salvador pousada or Salvador hotel and get an idea of the main routes. They are safe and run from 6 in the morning until midnight. Make sure to use the door at the back to board buses.

The Rodoviária, which is adjacent to the Iguatemi shopping mall, is the main bus station in Salvador. The mall has its own stop and almost all city buses will pass this way. Remember that if a certain destination is not available at Rodoviária then the Iguatemi stop is within walking distance. Iguatemi can be found near Pituba on Salvador map. From Pituba, buses make a beach circuit to Barra and Itapua. Mini buses, which are actually large vans, carry passengers from Itapua to the Flamingo regions or Stella Mares.

The air-conditioned vans are expensive and direct buses operating between Stella Mares and Pelourinho charge three times the regular fare. The regular fare is a little more than US$ 1. Only some buses will traverse the whole extent of the map, say from Praia do Flamengo to Campo Grande. In Salvador, buses display only the final destination above the windshield while the route map is affixed near the door where passengers board.

The best way to get to Pelourinho is to first catch a bus to Campo Grande. Buses to Praça da Se, the main bus stop in Pelourinho, do not run through the night and if planning a day trip be prepared to return by 7 or 8pm. Safety can be a concern after that. If you plan to leave later, taxis will ferry you back to Salvador.

By Taxi
Taxis are a faster option but be warned because the local drivers tend to speed a lot. Taxis are painted white with red and blue stripes on the side. Number plates are red in colour. Rates can fluctuate depending on the time of day and are invariably higher after midnight. The drivers very often do not use meters and it is a good idea to haggle as the quoted rates will be much higher than the actual. Very often, finding the right taxi is important in Salvador as the driver can actually take you for a ride and legally tab you for five times the amount.

There are two types of taxis in Salvador and meters start at R$ 2.50. The Flag 1 taxis are inexpensive and should be used when there are less than 3 customers. Flag 1 taxis operate on all week days before 10 am and after 6 pm. On Saturdays they are off the road by 2 in the afternoon. Flag 2 taxis on the other hand are pricey and ply between 10 at night and 6 in the morning. Use Flag 2 taxis if there are more than 2 of you, or if you are carrying luggage, prefer air-conditioning or are travelling outside Salvador. Only Flag 2 taxis go to the airport, since it is outside Salvador. Taxis registered with unions such as Disque-taxi and Tele-taxi have telephone numbers marked on them just in case you want to lodge a complaint


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