Welcome to the world of public transportation in Buenos Aires, and in particular, the overwhelming yet extremely crucial, GUIA-T (pronunciation Geeeee-a-Teeeee). When you first open this deceivingly simple looking book, your eyes bounce from one page to the next while you very consciously conclude that there is no point in trying to understand this chaotic collection of what appears to be some kind of guide to the streets and bus system of Buenos Aires. However, there is! Once you master the art of the GUIA-T, you will be able to reach any part of the city by bus and pay only 1.20-1.35 pesos. Unless it is past midnight, or Buenos Aires is playing her game of, “let me test your patience”, you generally do not have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a bus.
Maybe we should start at the beginning….
1) Open your page to the front index which starts with the obvious letter, “A”.
Wait! Before you get to overwhelmed with the small writing that is blurring together in front of you, remember that this index from A-Z, lists the name of EVERY street in Buenos Aires! How great, right?
2) Flip through to the first “Plano” and notice that there are a total of 36. Each Plano displays a different part of the city. Complete with all the streets and street numbers. Now all we have to do is figure out which Plano to use and when. Easy!
3) Say you want to go to, Balcarce 1073, which is in the neighborhood of San Telmo. Well, flip to the massive front index and go to “B”. Got it? Great. You will see the option of choosing from the address numbers 1-850, and 851-1500 (every street will have a different option of addresses to choose from depending on how far that street stretches throughout the city).
Ok, we want Balcarce 1073, which would be in the 851-1500 category, and we can see that it is listed as “25-C1”.
What is this all about? Stay with me here folks.
Well, it means Plano 25 (go ahead and turn to Plano 25).
C-1 is how you can locate Balcarce 1073 using the grid system that each Plano provides.
Under the letter “C” next to the number “1” on Plano 25, is where you will squint your eyes and search for the street “Balcarce”. There it is! Now check the numbers running along side of the street and locate Balcarce 1073.
4) Ok, so you found the street. Well, now what? As you can see on the left side of the book there are a bunch of random numbers squeezed into little squares. Well, go back to the grid system.
On C-1, on the left side of the book (as opposed to the right side where you are looking at the Plano), you can see all the busses that go to where you want to end up!
O great…. the number 22 goes to this area. To see what busses pass right by you, use the same technique but this time with the address you are starting from.
So, hop on that bus and get going to San Telmo!
But what street does this bus go down? Where is it going to drop me off?
Flip to the back where all the busses are listed by their number and their route. Since we are heading down to San Telmo from, let’s say, Palermo, you want to look under “regreso”. You see a great number of streets this bus goes down, Bolivar is one of them. Hooray! Bolivar is right next to where I want to go. Ok, you are getting off at Bolivar and walking two blocks to Balcarce. Sound good?
Don’t’ worry, you will get the hang of it and you will become one of the many that walk these streets with a little book worn and torn from all the use you will get from it. One fine day, you will put the little GUIA-T down with a map permanently embedded in your brain.
BA Bus Culture
- When you get on the bus you will tell the bus-driver how much money you want to deposit. This depends on how far you are going. The average amount is 1.20 pesos.
- Get on and off the bust fast. It is always surprising to see the things in Buenos Aires in which they take their leisurely time, and the things that they don’t. Getting off the bus would definitely be an example of stop and GO!
- When getting off, stand by the middle door and press the button to notify the driver your stop is approaching. The button may not work, which is fine. The driver will see you and stop.
- If a woman with a child, pregnant woman, older man or woman get on the bus, it is proper to offer your seat if no other seats are available.
- Hold on to your purses and bags while on the bus. It can get crowded and it is better to watch your things closely.
Last but certainly not least….Enjoy the ride!
Ashley Barnes resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a freelance writer, photographer and creator of “Entre Argentina Tours“, a tourism business dedicated to connecting tourists to the best wine tours, art tours, and restaurants in Buenos Aires and throughout Argentina.
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