As the public transport system is good, don’t think of driving yourself. The local drivers are aggressive, impatient and reckless. Speed limits, road signs and traffic signals are often ignored and tailgating is common. Parking is difficult.
With an efficient underground system (Subte), a 24-hour bus service and 39,000 affordable taxis, this mega-city is easy to get around.
The underground system is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Spanish-speaking world, having been opened in 1913. There are 74 stations along 52.3km of track. There are six subway lines named by letters A-E and H (no F or G!) which link to the metropolitan train network. A new north-south subway line is planned and existing lines are being extended to the outer neighbourhoods. By 2011 the track length will reach 89km. The subway is hot and crowded – so beware of being robbed – but is an efficient and easy way of getting around.
Single- or multi-ride magnetic cards (SubtePass) or Contactless cards (SubteCard) which can be recharged with cash or linked to a bank account for automatic debit, can be purchased at boleterías (ticket booths) in all Subte stations. To save time standing in queues, buy a 5- or 10-ride card. At some stations, the tracks separate the platforms, so be sure of your direction before passing through the turnstiles. Trains operate from around 05.00 to 22.00 Monday to Saturday, and 08.00 to 22.00 on Sundays. Service is frequent on weekdays, slower on weekends.
There are over 150 bus lines, known as Colectivos, each identified by a number and a different colour. On boarding the bus, tell the driver your destination and he will enter the amount on the ticket machine next to him into which you will insert coins only and which will issue a receipt. There are bus stops every two or three blocks and most buses operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you wish to alight, go towards the back of the bus and ring the bell on top of the back door. In 2009 a new electronic card was being implemented to eliminate coin usage (as coins are a scarce commodity) and the printing of receipts. It is operational on some Colectivo lines.
The ‘Diferencial’ bus service has fewer stops and is far more expensive (more like an express bus).
Commuter Rail Network
These suburban trains run from 04.00-01.00; they also connect the city with long distance rail to Rosario and Córdoba among other metropolitan areas. The main stations for local and long distance services are Plaza Constitucion, Retiro and Once de Septembre. There are seven lines:
Belgrano Norte Line
Belgrano Sur Line
San Martin Line
A fleet of 39,000 black taxis with yellow roofs on which there is a Radio Taxi sign ply the streets day and night. They can be flagged down on the streets (but will only stop if the passenger side is alongside the kerb) or they can be called for a pre-arranged pick-up. There is no extra charge for this service and locals consider it a safer alternative.
Equipped with meters, taxis are a relatively cheap and efficient way of getting around the city but taxi drivers are known for taking advantage of tourists. You may find you have taken a far longer journey than necessary!
Remises (Car Service)
Similar to taxis, these are private cars with no specific colours or signs. They cannot be flagged down on the streets. They are requested by telephone or in person at the remiserias or agencias de remise which are small offices or at storefronts throughout the city. The cost of the trip is pre-arranged so you will know exactly how much you will pay when you advise the driver of your destination. The remises are very safe, cheaper than taxis, and will always take the quickest route.
In downtown Buenos Aires, the Argentines have created their very own vehicle, the colectivo, a micro bus, half the size of a standard city bus that provides a reliable and interesting way of getting around. Public transport is preferable to driving through the busy streets of Buenos Aires.
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