Riding the bus in Buenos Aires can seem very daunting at first, particularly to those who have just arrived. Some will go to great lengths to avoid taking the bus, walking much longer distances than necessary, simply because the bus system seems too complicated to use. While this is okay if you are staying for only a couple days, it´s not so practical if you are staying for a number of months. So here are some tips we’ve put together to help the city´s bus-novices better take advantage of the Guía T and the actually quite developed bus system Buenos Aires has to offer!
Using the Guía T
What is the Guía T? This is the most useful bus guide available to you. You can find it at most newsstands and it has a compilation of maps and bus routes for all the bus lines within the city limits (up to Avenida General Paz) if you have the ¨pocket¨ (de bolsillo) edition. There is also an edition with the whole greater Buenos Aires area, but this would only be useful for those who live outside of or travel outside of the city limits often.
1. Don´t just check which bus takes you somewhere. Also check on what street the bus will take on its return route, since the majority of streets in Buenos Aires are one-way. Although this is often one of the next parallel streets, sometimes it is a number of streets away, or its return route is slightly different.
2. Don´t just check which bus number takes you somewhere. Also check if there are different ¨ramales¨ or branches of that same bus line. Some bus lines, such as the 60, have more than 10 different ramales, so be careful – you could end up in a completely different place than you had planned.
3. Sometimes, when there are numerous different buses that take you from where you are to where you are going, some routes are much more direct, and therefore faster, than others. If you will be making the trip many times it is definitely worth a look at the back part of the guide where it lists each bus line´s entire route to compare which is more direct. This can save you a lot of time.
4. If your trip is too complicated, or you cannot find your route using the Guía T, a great online resource called www.comoviajo.com can be very handy. Beware, however, that it is not foolproof and it can make errors. Always carry your Guía T with you just in case!
5. Some buses come more frequently than others, and some run all night long, while others do not. Remember this when staying out late. Taxis are always the safest option when it is very late, particularly after 3 or 4 in the morning, when buses can come as infrequently as once an hour.
6. Sometimes when a bus comes very late, it is also followed by a number of other buses of the same line. If you let the first bus pass and flag down one of the others, it is very likely that it will be a lot less crowded. Ojo! This can also backfire, as some bus drivers are sneaky and will not stop for you if you let the previous bus(es) pass by!
7. There are currently 3 different bus fares: $1.10, $1.20, and $1.25. Which fare corresponds to you depends NOT on how far you are traveling, but rather how many sections you will be crossing. Within one section, the fare will be $1.10, within two will be $1.20, and 3 or more sections will cost you $1.25. The trick is, however, that nobody actually knows where sections begin and end! Some buses have a sign above the ticket machine, but it requires a keen knowledge of the city´s streets to be able to interpret. The most common fare is $1.20, but when in doubt, you can either tell the driver the cross streets you will be getting off at, or you can just splurge and pay the $1.25.
Continued in Part 2…