Friday, February 16, 2007

Using Public Transport in Argentina, Spain and Italy

“Che, ¿tenés monedas? Dale, ¿No me cambiás?” says one Argentinean to the other.
(Reproduction of a common conversation among porteños, on a daily basis)

Every day thousands of porteños (people who live in Buenos Aires) repeat phrases like this to get coins so they can take the bus to go to work, visit a friend, go to the city center to run errands, etc.

In Spanish cities, where monthly passes are available, and people can buy their ticket from the driver, citizens carry the weight of coins in their pockets for no reason. However, in Buenos Aires, it is necessary to feel the metallic wieght. In fact, porteños begin to worry when they can no longer feel the coins clinking in their pockets, wallets or purses. No coins, no ride.

In Buenos Aires, passengers get on the bus through the front door, tell the driver where they want to go or specify the amount of the fare, place their coins in the ticket dispenser, remove the ticket and then fight their way through people until they reach the back of the bus.

In Rome, the situation is completely different, and many times tourists and Romans ride for free due to the transportation system’s ambiguous rules.

Passengers need to buy their ticket at“tabacchi” before they get on the bus, and then can get on the bus using any door.

This system trusts that people are honest citizens who will follow the rules. To enforce the rules, the government hires a group of inspectors to control random buses, to ensure that passengers are buying their tickets

However, not all passengers follow the rules, and many take advantage of the system and ride for free risking to pay a 50 Euro fine if they get caught.

Everywhere, people utilize public transportation to move around the city, but in each country, they have particular rules and ways of traveling. For that reason, when you arrive to a new destination, I recommend you to ask a local how the transportation system works in the place you are visiting.

This reminds me, if you are coming to Buenos Aires, do you have your coins handy?

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