Reports from Cuba: The odyssey of buying a ticket to get from one province to another

Yankiel Gutierrez Faife reports in 14yMedio from Camajuani via Translating Cuba:

The Odyssey of Buying a Ticket to Get from One Province to Another

The Taguayabón bus stop, near Camajuaní, Villa Clara.

I live in Taguayabón, near Camajuaní, in Villa Clara province. For months I have been waiting for July to come so I can spend a few days with my mother in Havana, visit relatives and see the city.

I was up by 8:30 Monday morning. Having waited a month for tickets to finally go on sale, I logged onto the the Viajando travel app. It seems a lot of people had the same idea because no sooner had I accessed the site than the connectivity problems and system failures began.

I selected my tickets and was ready to pay but the app could not connect me to Transfermovil, its payment platform. “This operation could not be completed due to a connection problem with the server. Please try again later,” read the message on the screen.

I tried multiple times to complete the process in the allotted ten-minute window but all attempts failed. Each session eventually timed out and I had to start over. For an hour and a half I kept repeating the process, without success, so it occurred to me to just go in person to the agency’s offices in Santa Clara instead.

The offices are eighteen kilometers away and, with the dreadful public transport situation, this meant waiting one to three hours for a Transmetro bus, a truck or a Giron bus. If you manage to get any of them, the price is 20 pesos to the Arnaldo Milian Castro hospital, where you then have to pay 30 to 50 pesos for a horse-drawn carriage to take you to the bus terminal.

Frustrated by the time I had wasted and not thrilled with the alternative, I thought about contacting my friend David, who lives in Santa Clara, and asking if he could do me a favor and buy me a ticket. I did and he agreed.

David hopped on his electric scooter and headed for the ticket office located in the Inter-Province Bus Terminal. By the time he arrived, there were already twenty-three people waiting in line. Several of them had experienced the same problem that I had. They were unable to buy their tickets and were extremely frustrated

Some complained about app errors, others about the small number of available seats. Currently, there are only two buses a day from Santa Clara to Havana — one at 1:00 PM and the other at 11:50 PM — which are not enough to meet demand. After internal borders were reopened and inter-provincial travel resumed, officials claimed they would add more buses to the route. However, the fuel shortage has made it impossible for them to keep their promise.

After waiting almost an hour in the hot sun, my friend was finally able to buy two tickets for July 26, at 80 pesos apiece. Minutes later, all the tickets had sold out and many people had to leave without having achieved their objective.