Public transportation is the preferred means of travel in Buenos Aires. The streets are crowded with cars and pedestrians, and driving oneself can be a dangerous undertaking. The network of Subte lines, colectivos, and trains are thorough enough to get you anywhere you need to go, at any time of the day or night. Most porteños use public transportation for their daily commutes, evening outings and weekend activities. Because of this, the Subtes, trains, and colectivos are frequently crowded; at rush hour — and even at 3pm on a Wednesday — it’s a luxury to be able to get a seat.
In general, public transit vehicles are clean and safe, but pick-pocketers do tend to target passengers, so be wary of any valuables. Guard what’s in your pockets and try to use purses or bags with zippers. Keep your belongings close to your body; clutch your bag against your chest or between your legs. You will see the locals doing the same, so don’t feel like you’re being presumptuous — you’re just being safe. As a general rule of thumb, the more crowded a colectivo, train, or Subte is, the higher the rate of theft. This is especially true at the stops. Take a cue from the locals — keep a firm hold of your belongings, and you should be just fine.
One option that frequent Subte and colectivo users take advantage of is the Monederocard (http://www.monedero.com.ar/). You can obtain the cards in locations all over the city, including certain ‘kioscos’, or corner stores, and the Subte stations themselves. In the kioskos and Subte stations, the minimum first charge is $2, but in other locations around the city, like Monedero stands located at rest stops on the highway, the minimum first charge is $25 and then you can charge the card up to $300. You can recharge the card in person with cash at any of these same locations, or you can link your Monedero card with a credit or debit card and have it recharge automatically so you never run out. This linking is done at the time of purchase. If your Monedero card is lost or stolen, you can call 0800-362-MONE (6663) to be issued a new one.
The SUBE card (short for Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico, or unique electronic ticketing system) works identically to the Monedero and can also be recharged, but comes with additional security measures that link the card to a single unique user. Along with buses and the Subte, it can also be used on the trains. To obtain a SUBE card, you can go to any post office (Correo Argentino) and present a brief application form and a valid ID (such as a DNI or passport). Visit http://www.sube.gov.ar/ to apply.