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Bus line tries to add English-speaking travelers to Latino base

Tufesa Internacional wants you.

The bus line, based in Sonora, Mexico, and catering primarily to Spanish-speaking travelers, is expanding efforts to attract more English-speaking Las Vegans to its long-distance lines.

Why ride Tufesa instead of the venerable ‘Hound?

You can make it deep into Mexico or land in Los Angeles without having to make a transfer.

It’s no surprise that two Hispanic-oriented bus lines now serve Las Vegas. Recent U.S. Census numbers reveal that about a third of Clark County residents are of Hispanic origin, with many having roots in Mexico.

About a decade ago, the El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express, which has terminals at 1100 S. Main St. and 1410 N. Eastern Ave., added stops in Las Vegas to its service between Los Angeles, Phoenix, Alburquerque and points south. The company has always marketed strictly to a Spanish-speaking clientele.

But Tufesa, whose schedules and fare information are printed almost completely in Spanish, is trying to branch out. It recently placed its first-ever English-language ad in a local publication (no, not this one).

Roger Gaytan, who manages the Tufesa terminal on Martin Luther King Boulevard near downtown, said the decision to reach out to English-speakers isn’t surprising. Business at Tufesa is “so-so” and he wants more of the market.

“We’re not bad, we’re not wonderful,” Gaytan said. “We’re getting there.”

About 100 passengers leave from Tufesa’s Las Vegas terminal each day and the same number arrive, on a total of eight 42-seat buses.

Ramon Rubio got off one of those buses Friday, fresh from Guadalajara, Mexico. He said he chose Tufesa because the service is faster than other companies, the drivers are friendly and the seats are comfortable.

Amenities on the Tufesa line include five televisions and gender-specific bathrooms on most vehicles.

“I think we are one of the best,” Gaytan said. “I don’t want to be selfish, but I don’t know if you saw our bus, but they’re new. They’re really nice.”

He added that the travel-without-transfers feature is unique for long-distance travel. Guadalajara is about 1,500 miles from Las Vegas, or 36 hours by Tufesa, which charges $220.

The same trip on Greyhound is $188, but the journey involves two or three transfers and runs 46 to 50 hours.

Tufesa also competes with Greyhound on the Las Vegas-Los Angeles route, putting four daily departures up against Greyhound’s 13. Prices are comparable: $39 to $67.50 on the ‘ Hound; $40 on Tufesa, though it’s currently offering a $25 special to match the regular rates of the El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express, which offers three Vegas-LA departures daily.

Attempts to reach El Paso-Los Angeles officials in El Paso and Las Vegas were unsuccessful Friday.

Greyhound doesn’t release passenger numbers for specific routes, said corporate spokesman Timothy Stokes.

“Business has been profitable,” Stokes said. “We’ve seen an increase in the popularity of bus travel.”

He attributed this to commuters looking for affordable travel options, and said Greyhound has responded to the increase by updating bus interiors to make them more comfortable.

Not that Greyhound is worried about a little competition. Nationwide, it carries 17.6 million riders annually.

Contact reporter Laura Emerson at lemerson@lvbusinesspress.com or 702-380-4588.

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