Buenos Aires Stories and Tips

The Subway

Waiting Photo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Buenos Aires Metro (known as Subte) is a mass-transit system that serves mainly the inner city. The first station of this network was inaugurated in 1913 it and was the first of its kind in the entire Southern Hemisphere. The network expanded rapidly during the early decades of the 20th century, but the pace of expansion fell sharply after the years following the Second World War. Planning for expansion started again at the end of 1990 with the planning of four new lines.

In 1994 the service was privatised and is now managed by Metrovias S.A. with the stations remaining the property of SBASE, the government-owned corporation who once operated the system. The current network comprises six underground lines, labelled "A" to "E" and "H" and which are further identified by different colours, covering a total track length of 52 km.

We found the system quite easy to use once you become familiar with the setup. Our first experience was close to peak period but we still found an official who was happy to point us in the right direction to buy tickets and then it was relatively easy to find the correct train. One feature of the system is that there are relatively few direct connections between lines. This was not a problem to us because we were usually just taking a trip from the central city to a particular destination but it does make it a little difficult to negotiate longer trips.

The Buenos Aires Metro is noted for the presence of murals and other artistic works in its stations. These works and a number of the stations themselves are considered part of the cultural landscape of the city and several of them were declared National Historic Landmarks in 1997. For visitors, they certainly add another dimension to travel around the city.

Fares are cheap (around AR$ 1.10) and are in fact cheaper than the city buses. While tokens have been used in the past, at present, you purchase either single-use or multi-use cards (called SubtePass) with a magnetic strip or use contactless cards called Monedero which can be rechargeable with cash or linked to a bank account for automatic debit. Most visitors will just use the single journey tickets which can be purchased in the stations. Trains run from 5:00 until 22:45, every 3-6 minutes.

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