Is it your first time riding the bus in Brazil?
Watch this video to be shown step by step how to navigate public transportation in Brazil.
First you should look up your destination on Google Maps. Google Maps is usually correct, but not always. The interface is limited to showing 3 options, and sometimes the best option isn’t one of them. Its best to double check with someone to see which is the best bus to take.
Ask someone “Qual ônibus passa na blah blah blah” or “Qual ônibus pego para chegar em New York?” Keep asking people until someone confidently can tell you the answer. If they show any doubt in the answer they give you, its best to ask someone else. I’ve been given wrong information before by people who cared more about not looking stupid than giving correct information.
Another thing you can do is ask every bus driver that stops if their bus passes by where you want to go. This is going to be incredibly awkward for you the first couple of times you do it, but its what every Brazilian does. Stop the bus driver and ask him, “Esse vai para Alfonso Pena com Getulio Vargas?” If his bus doesn’t pass by there, he will tell you which one will.
When you finally find the right bus, you should give exact change to the change receiver. You will see people scanning a card to get on the bus. It varies by city but usually you can get these at a casa loterica.
Be aware that yellow seats are for elderly and disabled people. If you see one get on, give up your seat for them.
If you’re carrying a heavy backpack and the bus is full, someone sitting down may offer to hold your bag for you. Don’t be alarmed or feel threatened, they are just being nice. Its a great way to start a conversation and you’re saving your back the stress of carrying the bag. I suggest you let them hold your bag.
In order that you get off at the right place, inform the person who took your money where you are getting off. Tell them, “Me avisa quando chegamos em Copacabana…” You should also ask the person sitting next to you if they can let you know when you get there. In this way you don’t have to worry about getting lost.