(Photo by Libertinus)
Colectivo and bondi (Lunfardo slang) are the common local words for bus. And, the colorful bus lines, with their character bus drivers are truly a part of the local identity.
The bus system in Argentina dates back to the 1930’s when due to the economic crisis, taxi passengers began to dwindle and cab drivers came up with the idea of collective taxis. The exact date is the 24th of September of 1928; it was then that taxi drivers stood on their stop and began to holler out promotional tariffs to specific destinations (Plaza Once and Plaza de Mayo).
From then on routes began to be established, and bigger cars were purchased until the lines were made official and actual buses began to circulate.
As many travelers have noticed, one of the defining characteristics of the Argentine bus system is its colorful bus lines. As this mode of transport was private, the initial reason for this was to distinguish one line from the other.
One of the most popular color combinations was red and black. Some speculate that this was because the owners of the buses were anarchists.
The colorful system however did not last long. In 1936 the Transport Corporation was founded and bus lines were either bought or confiscated, their colors traded in for a uniform red and ivory.
Then, during the 50’s, the Ministry of Transport determined that all buses should be silver with a blue lining. It wasn’t until the privatizations in the 60’s that buses recovered their traditional coloring. Bus tickets, were also different colors depending on the bus line and distance, and many collected them.
Now a days bus tickets have been homogenized thanks to the ticket machine, yet this colorful city emblem keeps unique chromatic combinations, as well as occasionally sporting fileteado porteño, and decorations inside the buses such as engraved mirrors, curtains and special lighting, amongst others.