Book your hire car with Gomarbella & Spain now and Then

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Day the Buses Stopped Running

As well timed as any industrial action by French air traffic controllers, the Portillo bus company employees went on strike today, bringing coastal bus services to a halt and stranding thousands of tourists and working folk alike up and down the coast.

I went up to
the Marbella bus station this morning to check it all out and noted the police cars parked at the entrance, the demonstration banner and the very serious looking local policemen inside watching carefully for any problems from the picketers.

As I left I spoke to a woman next to her suitcase hop¡ng to catch the
Malaga airport shuttle bus.

"How are we meant to find out if there will be a bus to the airport at 11am if they don't tell us anything?"

I assured her there would be no bus at 11am and she went off to the nearest cash point at the petrol service station next to the bus station for money for a taxi.

I went back again this afternoon and found these three pleasant Canadian fellows you see in the picture to pose for me. They had been trying to get some sense out of the monolingual sales clerk and get tickets to
the Prado de San Sebastian bus station in Seville.

"Take a taxi from here to Fuengirola to the train station, a train to Malaga station and then a bus or a train to Sevilla. " I advised them.

I asked them to check in later to see their picture, it didn't seem right at the time to ask them to smile.

Stop Press Thursday 7th August: This morning on the way up to Ronda to take photos and add to my gomarbella information winding my way up the curves I got stuck behind one of the yellow Los Amarillos buses which operate services from Sevilla down to the Costa del Sol stopping at Ronda bus station and which would still have been operating on the day of the strike. After looking at the back of the bus for about 10 minutes before I could overtake, I realised I had forgotten to mention this option to our Canadian visitors. Really sorry about that guys. How did you get on?

Good News Wednesday 13th August: The weeklong strike finished today. The Portillo bus company employees have got a pay rise, two consecutive days off every week, a break between trips to go to the loo and a promise from their employers to renew the Portillo bus fleet - that's actually good news for all of us.

I went up to the Marbella bus station today again to check things out and the atmosphere was a lot happier. There still wasn't any paper in the gents loo however, that's just one of my measure of passenger care!

PS: You can now do online bus ticket reservations through the gomarbella reservation system.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

My friends and I are travelling around Spain this coming Sept and would love to visit Marbella (arriving from Sevilla, then going on to Granada). With this current bus strike, do you have any advise as to the best form of transportation to use?
Thanks, Sonia
Vancouver, Canada

Mike Drury said...

Hi Sonia, thanks for checking in all the way from Vancouver.

I am happy to say it's good news about the week long Portillo bus strike, because it finished last night and the buses started running their normal schedules from today Wednesday 13th August.

You'll have an enjoyable bus trip from Sevilla to Marbella, travelling down through Ronda where you get a loo and coffee stop. I love the rolling plains outside Sevilla which then give way to the mountains as you get closer to the coast.

When you are in Marbella there are lots of buses every day to Malaga bus station where you could stay over before leaving for Granada. Malaga city is worth a night's stopover if you have time. It's a port city and has a different atmosphere and rythmn.

Granada is great, it's a university city and there's lots to see and do. The students won't be back in early September but it'll still have a good feel to it.

Contact me nearer the time if you like and I'll send you the bus links for your journey.

Have a great trip Sonia and welcome to Andalucia!


Elena said...

Hi, I'm coming to Marbella next week, with two children (5 and 2 years old)... we will stay in Club Playa Real, Carretera de Cadiz km 193, Marbella.
We would travel by bus... I know how to reach Marbella Bus station from Malaga airport, but... from there? Which bus should we take? What is the nearer bus stop? And... anyway, is it easy to do with children and luggage too?
Thank you very much!
Elena (Italy)

Mike Drury said...

Hello Elena

Thanks very much for writing in from Italy. I will check out the bus stop and let you know through the blog tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.

Best wishes from Marbella


Elena said...

Thanks Mike!
That web site is really helpful!!

I'm a little anxious just for my little children...

Thank you very much again!


Mike Drury said...

Hi Elena, thanks for writing in. I appreciate your comments very much.

I went out early this morning to check out the distance from the bus stop to Club Playa Real. I took a few photos and put up a page which I hope will help you and other travellers to that part of the coast and I dedicate this page to you and the family!

The address is

My daughter takes my two and a half year old grandson shopping in London, they have fun together and they get in and out of cars and on and off buses with the push chair and shopping and everything else. Having seen how much more mums can do than us dads when it comes to the children, I feel sure you and the children will manage the last stretch with no problems.

I still think though that it would just be that bit easier for the final 500 metres if there was someone else travelling with you to help the children off the bus, pull the suitcase and push the push chair and keep an eye on the children but I guess that is the same thought I would have about my daughter travelling anywhere.

Read the information on the page and if you don't feel happy about what I have said for any reason, then just get a taxi from the Marbella bus station.

I hope this helps you to decide Elena and I always appreciate finding out whether the advise I have given is good or not.

Have a fantastic holiday, the weather is really great right now.

Best wishes


Elena said...

I would thank you again and again!

Really thanks!


Anonymous said...

I understand that during the summer months, the Mlalga-Fuengirola train service runs throughout the night at weekends. Is this so, and if so, do the trains stop at Malaga Airport. Arriving there 2.30am and hoping for onward journey to Benalmadena.

Mike Drury said...

Hi thanks for writing in. I have never heard of an all night train service from Malaga to Fuengirola at weekends in the summer.

I went onto the website and looked for Cercanias, selected Malaga and then Aeropuerto to Benalmadena and looked at different weekend dates in August including for tonight and could only come up with the last train service out of the airport at 23.03 arriving at Benalmadena 18 minutes later.

I've done the same flight as you will be doing, arriving at 2.30 in the morning but had my car at the airport. When I picked up the all night circular bus service to the free parking, I saw a few taxis waiting at arrivals. I think a taxi will be your best bet.

I'll be passing back through Malaga airport going home on Monday evening so I´ll check for you and answer you through this page on Tuesday first thing but as I said before, I'm sorry to say that I'm not optimistic about it happening.

Have a good weekend and thanks again for writing in.


Anonymous said...

i will be travelling to sabinillas in a few days time, other than hiring a car, how can i get there, can i get a bus from malaga airport to marbella, bus from marbella to estepona, and taxi to sabinillas, is this possible and practical, flight arrives 19.15 weekday, please let me have your thoughts

Mike Drury said...

Thanks very much for writing in. You've hit the nail on the head with your plans for getting to Sabanillas.

Until 30/9 which is the end of the summer schedule for the bus from Malaga airport to Marbella bus station, you might just be able to leave at 19.30 (if your flight gets in a little early) or more realistically on the next bus at 20.30 with the usual wait for baggage at Malaga airport.

On this second bus you'll get to Marbella bus station at 21.15. One bus to Estepona leaves Marbella at 21.10 and the next one is at 21.40. This is the one you'll probably be on.

The journey takes 70 minutes so all being well you'll pull into Estepona bus station at 10.50pm. Th e taxi rank is very close by.

I would guess a taxi to Sabanillas will cost around 20 euros now that you are travelling during the evening and night taxi fare tariff.

I hope all goes well and that your journey unfolds more or less as outlined above.

I'm always happy to have feedback on how trips go so if you've got a couple of minutes back at your computer later, please feel free to tell me how it worked out.

I got back last night from London, Stratford on Avon and Manchester and I must say it seems pretty warm here!

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Hello Mike

Asked about getting fom malaga to sabinillas, thanks for getting back to me with bus times etc . As there are a few options for my travel combining buses and taxis and journey times and bus changeover times,along with costs, please let me have idea of cost of taxi from marbella to sabinillas so that i can piece together the option that is most suitable to me

Thanks again for your help

Mike Drury said...

Hi there

Just phoned the Marbella taxi company 00 34 95 27744 88 and a taxi to Sabanillas from Marbella will cost 40 euros during daylight hours.

I remembered that you would be arriving later in the day and asked the girl for the evening and night taxi tariff. The girl said that it would be 4 to 5 euros more.

With all the money you'll save by taking the airport bus to Marbella bus station, you could well treat yourself to a taxi ride for this last leg and not feel bad about it!

Just to keep up your sleeve however, in the very unlikely event of airport bus failure, you have always got the train to Fuengirola from Malaga airport option(two trains every hour) and then a taxi from there to Sabanillas, probably about 30 euros on top of the fare from Marbella. more. As a last resort this would avoid having to take a taxi from the airport all the way to Sabanillas.

I hope this helps, let me know if I can help with any other options.

Best wishes for your trip


Anonymous said...

My daughter works in Marbella Centro and lives in San Pedro....she is saying that the buses do not seem to be running these days which is giving such a problem....taxis are just to expensive to use all the time, can you advise which no buses run via san pedro, and also how she will find out if there is a strike or just needs to hang on longer for a bus...
thank you, any help would be appreciated.

Mike Drury said...


So sorry about the delay in replying. I have just got back from France and was only able to connect intermittently to collect my emails.

The bus strike has been over since before the end of August and normal services should be operating.

Please ask your daughter to have a look at this page

It shows all the timings of the buses to San Pedro from Marbella. She should look at the section which shows the timings of the buses as it passes through the centre of Marbella after leaving the bus station a few minutes earlier.

The main bus stop in the centre of Marbella is diagonally opposite the Alameda Park in front of the Farmacia Berdaguer although there are a number of other stops as well.

I really hopes this helps and that she gets her transport running smoothly. I have every sympathy with her as I used a bus for my first nine months on the Costa del Sol before I had enough money to buy a car.

Please contact me again if I can help more directly.

Best wishes to you and especially to your daughter for a successful stay on the coast and thanks for writing in.

Mike Drury

nervouslittledog said...

Hi! As a Canadian I'm a big fan of anywhere with stonking amounts of sunshine so Andalucia is my holiday destination of choice. But I don't drive so am reliant on bus services to get around, and am having a really hard time finding information about buses between Gaucin and Casares, or Gaucin and Sabinillas. The idea is actually to stay in Malaga for a few days, on to Ronda, then down to Gaucin, Casares, Marbella and back out of Malaga. I'm booking accommodation and for the life of me, although I can get myself from Ronda to Gaucin, and from Marbella to Casares via Estepona, I can't seem to find any bus connection between Gaucin and Casares, or skipping Casares entirely, from Gaucin to, well, anywhere on the coast and upward to Marbella (Sabinillas seemed the most likely option). Any help you could give would be really appreciated! Pam

Mike Drury said...

Hello Pam

Thank you very much for checking in all the way from Canada.

The good news is that at the moment there is lots of sunshine, lots and lots, it's very bright and warm and if that is how you like it, you are just going to love your holiday.

The news on the downside is that for the life of me I can't track down a bus out of Gaucin. There must be one, perhaps the local bus company is just not on the internet.

Anyway I have emailed the Gaucin town hall and asked them for help. I am sure I´ll get a reply tomorrow.

For your coastal travelling, you are quite right, you just need to get either to Sabanillas or to Estepona and then it is the Portillo bus company which operate those routes.

As soon as I hear from the Town Hall I'll let you know.

Now where is my sun tan cream and dark glasse? I must get down the beach....

Best wishes from Marbella Pam and thanks again for your contact.


Anonymous said...


I am trying to get to Gaucin on Friday 21st Aug from Malaga airport for a wedding on the sat. Unfortunately I have no lift as easy jet changed my flight so I am looking into bus/train options.

I have figured out I can get a bus from Malaga to Esteponia, but from I can't find a link up to Gaucin (or at least Casares) from there... any help you can offer would be much appreciated! I notice above you had the same query from Pam and wondered if you ever got a reply?