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I’ve already written about the fun and games that trying to figure out the cross-country bus system can entail. Now back in Buenos Aires I realise that this is nothing compared to the shenanigans you have to go through to work out the city bus system. Inasmuch as it is a system, which I am seriously not sure about. Yesterday I started voluntary work helping out at an after-hours school club for kids in the Barracas barrio in the southern part of Buenos Aires, more of which later. However, before I could start I obviously needed to get there. I had an address, I know where I live so that’s the A and B sorted, how hard could figuring out the middle bit be? I know where to start, I needed the trusty Guia “T”, the Buenos Aires version of the A to Z which also contains bus information, so I toddled down to the nearest Kiosco and scored myself one. Here it is:

Guia T

Open it up and it has a nice plan of the city:

Map Pages

This is where it starts getting interesting. So, you’ve found where you live, Point A and you can find where you need to go, Point B. How to get there. The left hand page gives you the bus lines that pass through the corresponding square on the right hand page. In my case I have buses 12, 29, 39, 68, 92, 111, 128, 152, 188 & 194 going through the square that I live in. Somewhere in that square, containing 10 or so 100 metre square blocks. Those lines stop somewhere in there. not much help, but a start. So then you look at the square you want to go to, for where I need to be we have 10, 12, 17, 22, 24, 39, 46, 51, 60, 70, 74, 93, 98, 102, 129 & 168. So with a bit of cross-referencing I now know that lines 12 and 39 go from where I am to where I want to be. Easy.

But each square on the map is roughly 1 square kilometre. So where does the bus go from? To figure that out more investigation is needed.

Bus Pages

Each bus line has an entry in the back which lists the streets it goes down on both the out and return legs. Out and return from where? That’s a good question one which I haven’t really figured out yet, particularly as the start and finish points are usually areas I have never heard of. So you have to scan the roads looking for one you recognise. Which can take a while, and I’ve  lived here 4 months, God knows what you would do if you were new to the place. So you have to check that the line goes down the right roads, otherwise you may end up having a 10 minute walk either side of the journey. And you’d better hope that the line you need doesn’t have different routes. The page on the left in the  picture above is for one bus line, the 60 which has something like 15 different routes, luckily I don’t have to catch that one as I do not have the degree in astrophysics and geometry that I would need to work that one out.

So, in the end I figured out that I could walk to Avenida Santa Fe and take the 12 there, but not back as it takes a different route, but the 102 would drop me outside my house (but doesn’t take me there). A worthwhile half hour spent.
However, that’s not all of course. Next you have to figure out exactly where the stop on Santa Fe is, and that’s simply a question of walking down the street till you see the  miniscule P12 sign hidden in a tree. And once you’ve done that, how much the trip will cost you is a different issue altogether. Not to mention actually having the right change (only coins accepted) to pay for it, which is harder than it sounds as shops jealously guard their stocks of coins and will avoid giving you them in your change at all costs.

And then of course, there’s the small matter of actually surviving the bus ride (to this day I have not worked out how one minute you’re 5 lanes from the pavement in solid traffic and 20 seconds later the bus stops at the pavement to let people off without seeming to change lanes) and figuring out exactly where you need to get off once you get there..