The Guadalajara-Minnesota Connection

As new markets open up, entrepreneurs rush in to fill the demand.

An alert reader sent me this picture taken Friday, March 1, of a bus parked at a south Twin Cities Metro hotel.

Nothing remarkable about this sight, until you read the manifest posted in the bus’ windshield,

This bus traveled directly from Guadalajara, Mexico, to its terminus in St. Paul, a journey of more than 2,000 miles and nearly 46 hours on the road.

Guadalajara, the state capital of Mexico’s Jalisco state, is just one of the cities served by this bus line.

The coach belongs to a bus line based in northwestern Arkansas with a unique business model. (Website here, click on the American flag for the English version.)

The bus company is in the business of transporting riders from southern and western Mexico…

…through the international border at Laredo, and into the mid-continent. To the north, the route generally follows I-35, with a brief detour through an Arkansas hub and a spur line into western Iowa.

The demand for the service is obvious. As I’ve noted before, Minnesota is home to an estimated 500,000 foreign-born residents. Mexico is thought to have contributed more than any single nation at an estimated 60,000.

The bus line offers an economic alternative to airline travel, which would require a connecting flight for a journey to or from Guadalajara. For comparison, a Delta flight from MSP to GDL (through Atlanta), departing on March 6, would run you $650.

The online booking tool for the bus service shows fares beginning at US$250 for a March journey between the state capitals of Guadalajara and St. Paul. Departures occur twice weekly, on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. Arrivals occur in Minnesota on Friday’s and Monday’s.

Sure enough, Monday, March 4, there were two busses in front of the same hotel.

In addition to the Minneapolis and St. Paul terminals shown on the route map, the booking tool also shows intermediate stops at Albert Lea, Owatonna, Savage, and W. St. Paul.

They even offer a frequent-rider program.

The coaches are fully-licensed to operate on both sides of the border.

To quote from the famous movie, “It’s virgin territory for the man who knows how to open up new markets.”