The Subterraneo (http://www.metrovias.com.ar, English option), or Subte, runs throughout the city like a hand. The C line, the main artery of the system, runs from Constitucion Train Station in the south to Retiro Train Station in the north, with the other four lines stretching out from the center of the line by the Obelisk. Subway riders can transfer at no extra charge wherever the lines intersect:
- The B line (Av. Corrientes), and the D line (Avs. Cordoba, Santa Fe and Cabildo) intersect the C line at Diagonal Norte station (C line), 9 de Julio station (D line), and Carlos Pellegrini (B line).
- The A line (Av. de Mayo and Av. Rivadavia) intersects at the Lima station (A line) and the Avenida de Mayo station (C line).
- The E line (Av. San Juan) intersects at the Independencia station (C and E lines).
There are constant improvements and extensions under construction, for example the H line which runs under Avenidas Jujuy and Pueyrredon and crosses the E, A, and B lines at their midway points.
The Subte directions are marked by the two end points of each line. For example, the D line runs from the Catedral stop, near Plaza de Mayo in Microcentro, to the Congreso de Tucuman stop in Belgrano. So in each D line station, the directions with be marked as ‘a Catedral’ or ‘a Congreso de Tucuman.’ Most trains run every 5-8 minutes, are are fairly punctual and reliable.
Maps of the Subte system are in each station, and you can ask the attendants at the ticket counter for a pocket map. While they don’t have maps in English, the lines and stations are well marked and easy to decipher. There is no trip planner specifically available for the Subte, however a great local website is http://www.comoviajo.com. This site, all in Spanish, allows you to plug in an address or intersection and find the best and quickest route there from where you are, via Subte, colectivo or train. Users be wary, sometimes the site doesn’t work, but when it does, it’s a wonderful tool.
Each ride costs $1.10, and you can purchase multiple fares at a time. Tickets are sold in units of 1, 2, 5, and 10 trips. A single fare covers any transfers onto other lines. Station attendants will usually have change, and will specify ‘Pago Exacto’ when they don’t. You can also use and/or recharge your Monedero or SUBE card at all stations (see the “Public” section for details on how to obtain a card).
The Subte is open from approximately 5am to 11pm Monday through Sunday. However, be wary as some stations will close early, closer to 10pm, or won’t open until closer to 6am. Also, ‘paros’ (work stoppages) are frequent; sometimes they’ll only last a few hours, other times the Subte line will shut down for the entire day. (Unless there’s a general strike, it’s rare for multiple subway lines to shut down at the same time.) Occasionally, there is advance warning which mostly comes by word-of-mouth, but don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a paro. Some stations, especially around Congreso or Tribunales, may also close temporarily due to political demonstrations or unrest. Be ready to have a backup plan, just in case, when you’re traveling around the city with a time crunch.
Subway trains are crowded and can be very hot in the summer, but they are generally safe, reliable, and fast. Keep any bags or purses in front of you and maintain a good grip on them, though, because pick-pocketers do frequent the trains. When boarding the Subte, be prepared to be shoved into the train by the crowd. When the train isn’t packed to capacity, it’s common to see street musicians performing for spare change, or vendors passing through and selling small accessories or candy. When you’re getting off, passengers will tend to be more polite and accommodating: just say “permiso” and they’ll move out of your way to let you through. It is common for people to give up their seats for pregnant women, women with children, or older passengers, so be prepared to hop up and offer your seat to another passenger.