Colectivo: how to get around in Buenos Aires

Colectivo is the name given in Argentina to public transportation vehicles. They represent one of the best-known traditions of the city.

With very affordable ticket prices and extensive routes, the colectivo is by far the preferred mode of transportation around Buenos Aires and their frequency makes them equal to the subway systems of other cities, but on wheels.

We “Porteños” have a love-hate relationship with the colectivo. On one side, they tend to be very crowded in rush hour and are a haven for pickpockets and petty thieves. On the other hand, they are a loved necessity in the city and a convenient and cheap way to get around.

When they first appeared in the 1920s, colectivos were small buses built out of smaller vehicle chassis (cars, vans, etc.) and, later, out of truck chassis.
Colectivos used to be built on top of units not specifically designed for the transportation of people and were decorated with unique hand painted fileteado that gave each unit a distinct flavor and added a colorful touch to Buenos Aires’ streets.

Their evolution and size growth was steady and they kept their own picturesque style until 1990, when the urban fleet was modernized with real bus units (with motors in the back) and much of the charm was lost.


2 responses to “Colectivo: how to get around in Buenos Aires

  1. Pingback: Colectivo: how to get around in Buenos Aires (via Home Hotel Buenos Aires) | The Buenos Aires Striker

  2. Colectivos are one of the coolest things about Buenos Aires, especially the classic old ones with the crazy paint-jobs! But riding around on the public buses can seem like a rather daunting task for tourists who don’t speak Spanish. However, anyone should be able to take advantage of the money-saving opportunity that is public transport in Buenos Aires. Armed with a Guia-T, Vicky Baker explains how it works:

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