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Getting about Buenos Aires - a quick guide.

(Photo credit: Kyle M Lease)

Although walking is indeed one of the most interesting ways to get about the inner city, some visitors to Buenos Aires like to venture out and take public transport.

TAXIS/REMIS (private taxi)

Most tourists have the pleasure of a rather entertainingly whirlwind taxi ride whilst in Buenos Aires. It is usually the first thing visitors encounter after stepping off a plane so many are not prepared for the videogame swerving antics these professionals usually undertake. It makes for good conversation once you are safe in your apartment or hostel though. Taxis are super abundant throughout the central city and getting one is as easy as lifting an arm. Safety recommendations is always take a Radiotaxi (it usually has writing on all four doors and a sign on the top), try and hail a cab on the right hand side of the road with a safe place for them to stop (ie not in a bus stop), and try to have small bills on you so you can pay as close as possible to the amount. There are stories of taxi drivers swapping $100 bills for fake ones so keep an eye out for this.


The most important part of this quick guide is about the Sube card. Public transport across the board (except taxis) now usually require all passengers to pay via a Sube card. You may be able to use cash on some train services. Ridiculously, you are unable to pay for a ticket in cash at the ticket counter of the Subway and also unable to buy a Sube card from any train or subway station. So how do you go about getting one?  Sube cards are usually sold at Kioscos. Be prepared to ask at several kioscos because there will undoubtedly be the excuse of ¨we have run out¨ or ¨no we don´t sell them¨ at the first one you try. Once you have your card, your best bet for putting on money is at the subway station or train stations. Very few kioscos are able to put money on your card but you may find some lottery shops (Loterias) will also put money on the card for you. You need to hold the card up to the little machine and the person behind the counter will charge it for you. If your spanish isn´t up to speed, then handing over the money and holding up the card usually gets the desired effect.


Monsters of the road, the buses are a (usually) quick and relatively cheap option for getting around town.  It can also be a rather entertaining insight into the residents´ everyday lives as well as getting you from A to B. Anecdotes include, one driver leaving the back door open while at the bus stop to patiently wait for the passenger leaning out the door (gesticulating fiercely) to finish his argument with somebody on the sidewalk. Another included a man with a flute who argued that the journey was made all the more pleasant as he was providing a soundtrack. Then you have the chance of the odd hair-raising moment like a barrier arm at a train crossing coming down on top of the bus, or the angry waiting passenger banging on the window, unable to understand why the bus driver will not let him on at the intersection instead of the actual bus stop.

The guide for buses (GuiaT - available at most magazine stands and is a great way of having a map of the entire city) does appear to require a university degree to get your head around it, but a wee bit of study of the particular lines you need will have you up to speed.  Once you have the line you want, it is a matter of heading down to the bus stop (always on the right hand side of the road and usually a stop every two or three blocks) and raising your arm to signal to the driver to stop. Occasionally if the bus is full, the bus will not stop and just keep going. Once on board, let the driver know what street you are heading to and he will press a button. Put your card up to the machine and once it has beeped, you can move on. The price is upwards of $6.25 pesos. Note that buses tend to travel in groups (yes the drivers will stop and converse at the lights), and some routes are notoriously unreliable so you may be waiting between 5 minutes or over an hour for a bus. That is the luck of the draw!


http://wander-argentina.com/how-to-take-thebuenos-aires-subway/ offers an indepth (but not quite up to date regarding the Sube card) description of how to take the Subway in Buenos Aires, highlighting train etiquette and giving you the odd spanish phrase that will come in handy. The subway network is much easier to understand and will get you to most places in the city. It costs $4,50 (at the moment - which may increase very soon) to enter the system but beware that most stations do not have the platform in the middle and if you enter on the wrong side, you are unable to cross to the other platform without losing your money. The phrase ¨¨Trenes a Rosas¨ means trains to Rosas, so you can figure out if the train is heading the way you want or not.  A map is available in GuiaT as well.


Over the last few years, the City of Buenos Aires has improved its train system and now has comfortable trains that are looked after and pleasant to travel in, running on most lines. The train system is easy and usually reliable and all end up in the hub of Retiro. You can also get the Mitre connection from Retiro that takes you to the station Olivos, where you can access the Tren de la Costa (which goes out to Tigre).

Again, using a Sube card makes using the train super easy. Buying a return ticket (ida y vuelta) makes life easy for your return trip. Keep a hold of your ticket as usually you are asked at the station you get off at if you have your ticket. You can also use your Sube as a swipe on-swipe off card but it is not clear whether or not all stations have this ability yet as upgrades are continuing at the moment.


It is not really worth hiring a car to get around the city as the public transport is so highly available. Note that you are able to use your Sube to pay at the toll booths (peajes) that are scattered about the motorways and routes leading out of the city.


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