Getting Around - Local Buses


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General
Torremolinos has a good local bus service and decent connections to places further away direct or via Malaga. For most buses you pay on entry and the drivers are helpful (so long as you are polite). The buses can get very full, particularly during the main holiday periods and during "rush hour". Remember that you may be on holiday but people live and work here too. Shops and offices generally open around 9am or 10am and many close for lunch about 2pm and reopen about 5pm so buses can be full then.


Bus company
The local bus company, Portillo, is part of the Avanza group and they do have a website where you can download PDFs of all buses leaving a particular place, for example all buses from Torremolinos. Unfortunately, some of them do not include the route number, so in some cases, you can't be sure what the final destination of the bus will be. Return buses are not included. As a visitor this can be confusing. Only parts of this website are in English
A much better set of timetables can be found on the website of the Transport Consortium de Andalucia where there is a diagram of all of the stops and Google maps showing the actual position of all stops. This site also has useful information about fares and zones.


Fare zones
The area is divided into four zones.
Zone A includes Málaga, Churriana, IKEA and Plaza Mayor.
Zone B includes Torremolinos, Benalmádena Costa and Aroyo.
Zone C includes Mijas and Fuengirola.
Zone D is Alora.
The fare depends on the number of zone boundaries that you cross. Within a single zone it is 1.55 €. Crossing from one zone to another will cost you 1.65 € and crossing two zones is 2.30 €. (As at June 2017)


Using the buses
Buses have two names on the front as well as the route number. The top name is the destination and the bottom name is where the bus has just come from. However, the drivers don't always remember to swap them over so they may be the wrong way round. This means that you need to know which side of the road to stand. If you are facing the sea then Málaga, the airport, Churriana and Plaza Mayor are to your left. Benalmádena, Mijas and Fuengirola are to your right.
When you see the bus coming, hold out your hand. If you don't the driver may not stop. Enter via the front door and state your destination. Normally only notes of up to 10 € are accepted. Babies should be carried and buggies folded (but they often aren't). Dogs are not allowed on buses. When you are ready to get off, press the bell and leave via the back door.
The bus company uses a wide range of buses. Some are wheelchair friendly and have ramps. Others are esssentially coaches and have steps that make the use of wheelchairs impossible. On some of these coaches the bell is hard to find. Look for little red (may be white) buttons underneath the luggage rack.
On buses as opposed to coaches there doesn't seem to be any rule about the number of people standing and some buses can get very crowded. So much so that in some cases in the summer, the driver will issue your ticket and then open the back door for you to get in (as in the UK a call to 'Move along the bus' is generally ignored.)


Travel card
The Transport Consortium de Andalucia produce a travel card that reduces the cost of using buses significantly. You only need to make four or five journeys to start saving. The initial cost for the card is 1.80 € and you can add anything from 5 € upwards to it. Buses have a pad on the front of the ticket dispenser. You hold the card over the pad and the machine produces a ticket that has the expected information plus the amount of cash left on the card.

Sample bus card

Now you don't even have to state your destination! You just have to be sure that you are on the right bus. Using the card, the fare within a single zone is 0.93 € instead of 1.55 €. Crossing from one zone to another will cost you 1.07 Є instead of 1.65 € (As at June 2017).
As a family you don't need a card each. You just move the card away from the reader and use it again to produce as many tickets as needed.
Of course there are a couple of complications. When the Consortium formed, Torremolinos decided not to be part of it. This means that you cannot buy or recharge the card in Torremolinos. (Torremolinos has now joined and it is hoped that you will be able to buy and recharge cards here from about February 2016 - Still waiting June 2017). The nearest purchase point is a Bus Ticket Kiosk at the Benalmádena Puerto Marina bus stop near the Tourist Office. Other places are mainly tobacconists in Benalmádena and Málaga. When you buy the card you have to decide how many zones it is for. If it is only for one, then you will not be able to use it to go to Málaga or Fuengirola. If it is for two zones then you will always be charged 1.07 € even for local journeys. It depends how you are going to use it most. I just buy two, one for one zone and one for two.

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