Sunday, September 12, 2010

How's this for a map of the suburban train system?

Impossible to find maps of the Suburban train system. Here is the best one that I found:

Please note that even this map has its flaws - namely, that the lines and stations seem to float in midair and aren't anchored by any geography. The only hints that we are given as map viewers is the outline of the city of Buenos Aires (Capital Federal) and that the map appears to be to scale (for example, distances between stations and between lines seem to approximate actual distances on the map). Still, viewers are left to ponder where some of these stations may be in relation to the subte, to different municipalities, and other important destinations.

Well, at least the map shows the entire system, which cannot be said for most other maps.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trip to Fundacion Banco de Alimentos

Raja and I have started volunteering at a place called Fundacion Banco de Alimentos. We're working in the warehouse, packaging food and other products to be distributed to food shelves and soup kitchens around Buenos Aires. It's a pretty cool operation that takes in over 250,000 kilos of food per month!

Our route to get to our volunteer site has been an exciting transportation challenge. First we walk about 40 minutes, then we hop on the suburban train at Scalabrini Ortiz Station towards Villa Rosa, we travel 4 stops and get off at Munro Station, and walk another 15 minutes or take bus #333. In total, approximately one hour and 30 minutes door to door.

On our walk, we've had a chance to discover some of the greener areas of Buenos Aires. Although you're not allowed to walk inside the Golf Course (think high chain link fence), the Campo de Golf provides a green lush respite from city noise and traffic. And the Lago de Regatas has lots of joggers, fishers, and families who enjoy the birds and plants around the lake. Then we walk through a little neighborhood of houses and apartment complexes before arriving at the Parque de las Americas and crossing a pedestrian bridge to Scalabrini Ortiz station, which is located in the middle of the highway.

The first day I did this route by myself and got quite lost. The most humbling moment was when I stood on the wrong platform and watched my train go by. Why? Because the trains here were built by the British and thus travel on the left and not the right like in the US. One way cost for the train trip is 75 centavos or less than 25 American cents. Wow!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some initial discoveries regarding the Buenos Aires "Subte" system

The Buenos Aires subway system is called the "Subte", which is a shortened version of the Spanish "Subterraneo". Its first station was inaugurated in 1913 making it the oldest subway system in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere (for comparison, the oldest underground system in North America is claimed by Boston, which began in 1897). Pretty impressive for Buenos Aires!

Another interesting cultural tidbit is that the cars on Line A, the oldest line are the original wooden subway cars that were built in 1913. I'll post a picture after I ride the line. Last time I was in Argentina Raja and I were given a huge warning by a fellow passenger to beware of pickpockets, hence we took very few pictures as we didn't want to take out our camera. The next occasion I think we will worry a little less.

I found this website,, which in my opinion is by far the #1 site for all things subte news related. It seems like the free metro newspapers that are distributed in Boston, NYC, and other big cities in the United States. Except, this one is online.

Today when I looked at it there was an article on the negative health effects caused by exessive sound in the tunnels, information on which stations were having musical performances, and a critical piece on the impact of inflation on Subte employee salaries.

One of the things that I find confusing with the subway system (and train system in general) is that station names are not unique. For example, the A (red line) and the D (green line) both have a station named "Callao" which is in reference to Avenida Callao. However, these two stations are in different locations along the Avenue.

In my search to better understand the Subte system and how I might be able to use it, I came across a few websites with (and without) maps.

Mediocre to Good transit mapping websites in Buenos Aires

Here is what appears to be the official subte website for Buenos Aires. The map is really quite mediocre - not interactive or anything - and no base to reference where you are. It also has some additional information about how to pay, fares, and times of operation.

An ok site for seeing the subte lines juxtaposed on a google maps base. You can turn the lines on and off.
Seems like this site is actually under construction. But it looks like it should be pretty nice once they finish putting it together. Right now it's got a graphically pleasing map of the subte that is supposedly interactive but is actually under construction.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New bike paths in the Almagro neighborhood

When Vijay and I were exploring the Almagro neighborhood on a chilly August day, we came across one of the new bike paths we heard about. The green solid section is at the intersection. Smart idea to put a barrier in the main section of the bike path to keep aggressive Argentine drivers away from the bikes.

Just watch out for the manholes as you cross the intersection on your bike! They look rather dangerous.

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