The Buenos Aires bus— so noisy, so smokey, but so darn affordable and practical they’ll get you anywhere.
Here are the steps to take a bus in Buenos Aires:
1. Figure out your route
First you’ll need to figure out which bus you need using the Guía T if you’re old school, or an internet site such as Buenos Aires’ interactive map, which also works on phones and other devices. If you’re using a Guia T, as plenty of locals still do, look at this post to help you figure out what bus you need.
2. Find the bus stop
Once you know which bus to want to take, another challenge can be figuring out where the bus stop actually is located. On major streets such as Corrientes and 9 de Julio they are well marked. The bus stops are every two-and-half to three blocks, and usually marked with the numbers of the lines that stop there as well as a list of major stops. Just walk along the avenue or street until you see a stop. Sometimes the bus stops are not well marked in residential areas and you will need to ask someone: ‘¿Dónde está la parada para el 24?’(Where is the stop for the 24?)
Store and newsstand owners are accustomed to answering questions about the buses because no one knows where the bus stops are if they are not familiar the area. During the day there will often be a line of people waiting for the bus, you can ask them as well. If you don’t speak Spanish well you can also point to your bus number in the Guía T or on your phone and offer a perplexed look to be pointed in the right direction.
3. Make sure you have change or a Sube smart card to pay the fare
Most importantly, before getting on any bus in Buenos Aires if you don’t have a Sube smart card, make sure you have change to pay the fare — the buses don’t take bills. The basic fare for the general population costs AR$6, to be paid with a smart card. The city finally delivered on its promise to install card readers, which has greatly reduced the need to hoard coins to pay for the bus. Thanks to inflation, paying for trips in coins is only a good option if you are in the city briefly and don’t want to purchase a Sube card. Without a Sube card users also don’t receive a subsidy, so the basic fare is a bit higher if paying with coins.
4. Get in line
Aside from rush hour on very busy avenues, there is usually just one line of people for all the buses that go by any particular stop. Get in line. When you see your bus coming along, identified by its number above the windshield, put out your hand to indicate that you would like to get on the bus – each stop handles several buses, so if no one in line flags the bus, it will speed on by. Sometimes it will speed on by regardless – chalk it up to the inner complexities of the Buenos Aires bus driver.
5. Tell the conductor where you are going
Once you are on the bus you need to tell the conductor where you are going so he can charge you the appropriate fare. Simply name the cross street or location where you plan to get off, for example: ‘hasta Cordoba, por favor’. Many passengers, accustomed to taking the same route everyday, just tell the conductor how much to charge them. Most fares for shorter distances around the city, from three to six kilometers, cost AR$6. If you prefer you can make like a local and also just tell the driver, ‘seis, por favor.’
6. Pay your fare
After you’ve indicated your stop to the driver, hold up your Sube smart card to the card reader next to the driver. If you don’t have a Sube, dig deep in your pockets for some spare coins and drop them in the machine. If paying with coins, a ticket will be issued a ticket along with your change. No ticket is given if using the smart card. Hold on to the ticket, although it is rare that someone comes through to check them, but it does occasionally happen.
7. Hold on tight!
Once on board, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with kids obviously has priority seating so if you don’t have the good fortune to get a seat take a steady stance and hold on tight! When you want to exit the bus push the button located on the pole by the back door. Be careful exiting the bus — sometimes the buses don’t quite get to the curb and barely stop. If you are let off into the street, look back toward the oncoming traffic before jumping off to make sure there are no bicycles or motorbikes speeding up from behind.
For help figuring out which bus you need, click here