At first figuring out Buenos Aires’ complex bus system can seem like a harrowing task. There are 110 bus lines; each with their own complicated routes crisscrossing the city. Get your hands on a Guía T, a guide to the bus system that can be bought in a handy portable version at any newsstand for cheap and you will begin to decode the matrix that is the Buenos Aires’ bus system.
The Guía T is a low profile, local’s way to figure out how to get around the city and is also abundantly useful to pedestrians.
There are three sections in the Guía T. In the front of the book, there is an alphabetical index of all the streets in Buenos Aires subdivided with various address ranges, each pointing you to a page with the appropriate map. The body of the Guía T is made up of tiny maps of the entire city with a list of the corresponding buses on the opposite page. In the back of the book are all the various buses listed in numerical order with the details of their routes and pictures of the buses to demonstrate the color scheme of each line.
How to Use the Guía T
1. Look up your address
Just look up the address you are traveling from in the front of the book, the index gives a page number and co-ordinates, such as 16-A4, page 16, quadrant A4. On that page you will recognize a map of your location divided into a grid. On the left hand page is a corresponding grid with a list of buses that pass by that location.
2. Look up your destination
Secondly, look up the destination you are trying to reach as you did in step one. Flip back and forth between the two pages to compare the bus lines listed in the grids for the two locations. If you are not traveling too far, there will almost always be a bus that goes by each location. If not, look at the surrounding quadrants to see if there is a corresponding bus.
There is no transfer system between the different bus lines, so you may have to walk a few blocks. On the rare occasion that you need two buses, you will have to pay twice but since taking two buses is rather impractical, consider taking some other form of transportation such as the subway, taxi or a bus and brisk walk combo.
3. Map your route
Once you figure out the bus you need, look up that bus line listed in numerical order in the back of the book to see what streets it travels on – since many streets are one way, the buses often travel on slightly different routes on the going and return trips.
You will see both the ‘ida’ and ‘vuleta’ (going and return) listed street by street, as well as a little picture that shows the color and design of the bus. There are no times listed for the buses –they come when they come but because of the high volume, most buses come by at least every 15 minutes during the day.
Figure out which intersection you will be getting off at – you will need to tell the driver anyway to pay your fare. Check this post for more instructions on taking a bus in Buenos Aires.
Websites and Apps to Get Around Buenos Aires
In addition to using the Guía T, you can also use Spanish language websites such as Viaje Facil to figure out the bus system. On the left hand side of the website, simply put in the starting and ending destinations press enter and the site will tell you which bus lines to take and an approximate journey time.
Los Colectivos is a website that gives the phone numbers for the various lines and lists the frequency of the buses in minutes, useful information that the Guia T doesn’t provide. X Colectivo is another website that is a bit hard to navigate but it also has the major bus lines listed as well as lists of buses that pass by important sites. Also helpful is the city’s website search engine, Como Llego.
Additionally those who understand a bit of Spanish can call 131 toll free for bus information. The line is often busy, but if you have a telephone it’s worth a shot.
For information on how to take a bus in Buenos Aires once you’ve figured out your route, check out our guide for How To Take a Bus in Buenos Aires.
→ Read about taking an Uber and other ride-sharing services in Buenos Aires
→ Check out the Buenos Aires Walking Tour, which gives you a great primer on Buenos Aires and how to use public transportation in the city