Taxi Guide – Buenos Aires
Taxis make up the majority of the traffic on the streets and are used by locals and tourists alike. The most reliable and common cabs are the black and yellow Radio Taxis (http://www.radiotaxiciudad.com.ar, 4374-6666), and they are generally safe and reliable for foreigners. Locals don’t like using any other company, so take a cue from them and stick with the Radio Taxis. A small sign on the front windshield with the word ‘Libre’ will be lit up with a red light if the cab is available. To flag a cab, hold your arm out. Just make sure you’re not standing at a bus stop, or the taxi drivers may assume you’re trying to signal the ‘colectivo’. Sometimes it takes a little gesturing to catch their eye, but they’ll cross ten lanes of traffic to get to you if they can.
Fares have risen steeply in recent years, but they are still affordable compared to other large metropolitan cities. Fares currently start at $5.80 ($6.90 late nights and weekends); a twenty-minute cab ride might cost you $50-60. Be sure to carry small denomination bills with you, as drivers are reluctant to make change, and there might be an issue of counterfeit money for the larger bills. It is not common to tip cab drivers and they will offer you change before assuming you mean it as a tip. Although the vast majority of taxis you hail off the street will be legit, it’s a good idea to keep the phone number for Radio Taxi programmed in your phone. If you’re dining out in an unfamiliar neighborhood, ask the restaurant to phone a cab for you before you leave. This ensures more accountability on the driver’s part to get you home safe and sound.
It is not common for drivers or dispatchers to speak English, but if they speak any at all, they are quick to let you know and are usually very patient with you, no matter which language is used to communicate. A good idea in general is to know the nearest corner or intersection as well as the address and barrio of your destination. Tell your driver which barrio you’re going to, and then give him the address or intersection. If you have the address written down it’s better, but most drivers won’t need a reminder and are very good about taking the most direct route. Remember that most of the streets in Buenos Aires are one-way, so don’t be alarmed if your return route is different.
Female travelers should keep in mind that Argentine men can be rather aggressive and are quick to flirt. Sitting in the front seat of a cab when you are traveling alone could be misconstrued. It is always best to sit in the back if you are alone. The drivers will be more than happy to chat with you about the current economy or politics no matter where you sit.