One of the hardest things about living in Buenos Aires has been getting around the city. Although I (thankfully) have had some experience with public transportation while living in Pittsburgh for the past three years. Before that, in Danville, I never had the chance because it was such a small town. Figuring out the bus system in Pittsburgh was hard enough, I could only imagine how hard it would be if my first experience with public transportation was here in Buenos Aires. It is a huge city, much bigger than I even expected. Buenos Aires is about 80 square miles (three times the size of New York City) and with a population of 2.89 million people, whereas Pittsburgh has a population of about 300,000 people which is tiny in comparison. My classes are about two and a half miles from my home stay and my work is three miles, but it takes between thirty minutes and an hour to get to either place so I always have to plan ahead.
The first time I tried to catch a bus to campus, I checked my phone and went to the bus stop like I do in Pittsburgh, but the bus never came. So I had to get a taxi, which are thankfully very common here. We learned from the CAPA advisers that certain bus lines are reliable while others aren’t. So the next time I had to get to classes I made sure I took a different bus line. Also, when you get on the bus you have to tell the bus driver where you are going, which is something I wasn’t prepared for.
Coming home from my internship, I have to take the Subte (what they call the subway here) because it is the fastest way to get home. My work day ends at 6 pm, which is during rush hour so my hour commute home would be a half hour longer if I would take the bus. Thankfully the Subte is pretty easy to use. You can check on your phone to see which line to take and where to get off and once you are in the Subte station you swipe your SUBE card and follow the signs to get to the platform for the line you need. CAPA provided us with SUBE cards which is how you pay for the buses and the Subte and you can put money on them at kiosks or even in many stores. The worst part about the Subte is the crowding though. My internship is in center city so the Subte is always packed with people leaving their jobs at the same time. You have to squeeze in then stand there with people pressing in on all sides of you while more shove their way on at every stop. It’s a really unpleasant experience, but its the fastest way for me to get home besides in a taxi, which is expensive, so I’ve gotten used to it.