The tone of William Montalbano's article calls to mind the plaint of a French tourist seated behind me on one of those buses Montalbano rages about. In between her shrieks at each switchback (there are 14 of them) she complained to her companion that she saw no reason why "they" couldn't put in a funicular, "just like we have in Europe." As if that is the only thing the Peruvian government has to spend its limited resources on.
On my recent visit to Machu Picchu all the buses appeared to be running just fine, and I saw no long lines of tourists or students except at the hotel snack bar, and you can avoid that, too, if you buy some food at the market in Cuzco before you get on the train. The building Montalbano refers to as a "cramped and smelly concrete shed" is the Machu Picchu train station, which I found to be neither cramped nor smelly, at least no more so than any other train station I've ever been in. Further, if you take the local afternoon train from Cuzco you arrive just at sunset when the station is positively deserted. . . .
LEA SUSAN CHARTOCK