How to Ride the Bus in Buenos Aires

18 Jul

One of the most useful sources for travelers and locals alike in Buenos Aires is a bus guide called Guia T. This transit guide lists every bus throughout the city and to certain parts of the province, complete with grid maps and all. However, this guide can be quite limited and in reality, takes a bit of practice to get the hang of. Even once you have mastered the Guia T, you are never told exactly where the bus stops on a street, and you often need to walk a couple of blocks before finding the right place to wait. After only one or two days in Buenos Aires back in August, I was shown a little known Web site by my then landlord which has saved my life numerous times here. I don’t know why I’ve never written about it before, but I’m finally going to give a guide on how to use ComoViajo.

ComoViajo.com is a useful site for numerous transit related concerns, but I’ve only scratched the surface by using it for finding where to take buses to and from, so that’s what I’ll focus on. This Web site is entirely in Spanish, but don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it. Here’s how it works.

Step 1

Look at the top left hand side of the screen just under the ComoViajo logo to where it says “En Colectivo, Tren o Subte“. Now you are able to put in your starting and finishing locations, allowing the computer to zone in on your best options. Look at “Desde (From) Paso 1 de 3 (Step 1 of 3)”. Under Calle (Street), type in your starting address, but only the street name. For example, if your starting address is Avenida Corrientes 500, you only enter in Corrientes. Don’t enter Avenida or any other title on streets because the computer will not recognize it.

Altura o Esquina (Address or Corner)” is where you enter in the number or intersecting street. If you know the exact number, type in “500” for example. If you don’t have a number but a general zone, type in the closest street, like San Martin. If you’re still unsure of what streets might be near you, you should reference a map. I always check Google Maps Argentina while using ComoViajo just to double check. Don’t bother using their “Cómo Llegar (Driving Directions)” option unless you have a car, because it will give you exact directions. What you’re looking for here as a bus rider is the closest option with public transportation.

Next you select the provincia (province) and localidad (zone) which, unless you are traveling outside of the city to the province, will always be Capital Federal. It is essential that you select Capital Federal on both options, though once you hit Capital Federal for provincia, the second choice will automatically correct and choose it again for you. Now you can select Siguiente Paso (Next Step).

Step 2

Here you see “Hasta (Until) Paso 2 de 3 (Step 2 of 3)”. Follow the same process but for your final destination. Let’s say for example I want to go to Defensa Street in San Telmo for the Sunday Antique Fair. Under Calle, I type in Defensa, and under Altura o Esquina I put in the closest cross section. Since we’ve already tried an exact address, now let’s put in an intersection. To get close to the action, we select Chile Street, and enter in only Chile. Again for provincia and localidad we hit Capital Federal, followed by Siguiente Paso.

Step 3

Now as the page loads it asks us “Preferencias para el viaje…(Preferences for the trip) Paso 3 de 3 (Step 3 of 3)”. Underneath that you see ¿Hasta cuántas cuadras caminarías? (Within how many blocks?) 8 Cuadras (8 Blocks) is pre-chosen and I always go with this for more options without walking across the city, though you can range from 4 to 12 blocks. The second question is kind of self-serving. ¿Qué preferís? (What do you prefer?) followed by only one option, Ir de la forma más rápida (The fastest method). Now you can get your results by hitting Obtener Resultado (Obtain Results).

Results

Under Resultados (Results) you find all of the buses that will take you there with the estimated time of travel on the right side. In my experience, the time can be misleading. During heights of traffic you can add at least 15 minutes and during lows you can take off about 10 minutes. You see the Colectivos (Buses) listed in order of fastest arrival time, though sometimes a certain bus company is more direct, and once you get the hang of traffic in the city, you can choose which bus serves you better. That only comes with experience, unfortunately.

Our first choice here, L29 R B (REGRESO A LA BOCA) is the 29 (el veintinueve) which ends in La Boca. The instructions tell you Tomá el 29 desde SAENZ PEÑA ROQUE PRES. AV. y MAIPU hasta CHILE y BOLIVAR (Take the 29 from SAENZ PEÑA ROQUE PRES. AV. and MAIPU until CHILE and BOLIVAR). Though it doesn’t tell you exactly where to stand on the street, you now know the intersection where you need to wait and get off, and with a map in hand you can easily find the stop. I always double check with Google Maps again just to know where I’m headed and keep in mind the street names around me. Buses don’t announce their stops and you need to pay attention or ask the bus driver if they are willing to tell you when you reach your destination.

Upon getting on the bus you need to tell the driver how much to enter in the machine to pay. Shorter distances are generally $1.10 ARG, with a midway journey costing $1.20 and a longer trip up to $1.25. Make sure you always have enough monedas (coins) because they are like gold here for buses, as machines don’t take bills. You’re supposed to tell the driver your destination so he can figure it out for you, but if you know already you can just say the price. Hold on to your ticket just in case. So there you go, now you have a slightly better chance at not getting lost while riding the buses in Buenos Aires. Good luck and good traveling.

Here’s a short video just showing the walk through of the ComoViajo process, though the quality of the video is fairly blurry. You can still see the basic point where you should be focusing.

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2 Responses to “How to Ride the Bus in Buenos Aires”

  1. TKGO February 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    The Mapa Interactivo de Buenos Aires works similarly, too, and has been my public transit lifesaver. I was so relieved when a friend passed me the link!
    http://mapa.buenosaires.gov.ar/
    -Karina

    • Jon February 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

      Yeah, oddly enough a friend just showed me that site last night, but that was the first time I’d heard of it. ComoViajo has always been good to me, though like with the Guia “T” it’s never perfectly exact like Google Maps or anything. Thanks for reading!

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