Take a ride back into history in Buenos Aires


Inside one of the original subway cars from 1934. Still in use on Line A


While currently overcrowded, plans are underway for an expansion which will increase usage for 70% of Buenos Aires citizens


Trains run every three to six minutes depending on the line and station.

The Argentina railway line (Spanish: Subterráneo DE Buenos Aires), regionally called Subte -is a mass-transit system that serves Buenos Aires, the capital. The initial station of this network opened in 1913 and today the system is one of the busiest railway line systems within the world.

The subte network grew rapidly throughout the early 1900s.  With the coming of the Second World War the pace of growth at first fell then came to a complete stop.  Growth didn’t continue until the late 1990s with the addition of four new lines.  However, the demand has outpaced the expansion and the entire network stays overcrowded much of the time.

While the system in Buenos Aires is the only one in Argentina, plans are underway to create an underground system in Cordoba.

City and national politicians first started discussing the need for an underground transport system in Buenos Aires in the late 1800s.  Plans were made to use the existing tramway system which had been operating since 1870 as a model.

With this background, initial proposals for building the underground system were created along with the boulders requests for ‘presidential grants’ to fund the project.  During the 1886 – 1889 period the Ministry of Interior denied the licenses under a cloud of corruption and bribery.

In 1894 when a subway system was determined to be beneficial the government, construction began in earnest.  With a desire to shorten the distance between the Casa Rosada and Congress building was expedited using “the tube” in London as the model.

Designed by the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company which had been licensed by the government in 1909, the first subway line was opened in 1913.  The portion was built is still in use today and is the portion of line A which links the stations of Plaza de Mayo and Plaza Miserere.

In 1912 the Lacroze Hermanos Corporation won a contract to build another subway line.  The resulting line is the current line B and was opened for business in 1930.  In 1933 the Hispano-Argentina Society of Finance began building the last subway branch that would be built for awhile.

Centralization and nationalization of the subway line occurred in 1952.  Under the management of the Transport Corporation, the subway system began to decline with repairs to rolling stock, depots and tracks being delayed.

In 1963, the administration was dissolved and the subway network became the property of the Subterráneos de Buenos Aires company (later SBASE). In 1994 the service was privatized and is now managed by Metrovías S.A. with the stations remaining the property of SBASE.

The present day network includes six underground lines called “A” to “E” along with an “H” stuck out there.  With each line represented by a different color, the entire track length is roughly sixty kilometers or 37 miles.

Future growth is dependent on the planned financing and has been approved by the ruling authority in Buenos Aires.  Once all current plans for growth are completed, the subte will cover a total of 97 kilometers (60 miles) and will have many stations that serve as interchanges between lines.  Upon completion fifty six new stations will be added and planners estimate that each city resident will live no more than 400 meters (437 yards) from a subte entrance.

The Buenos Aires subte has always been noted for its murals and different creative works in its stations.  Forming an informal gallery of sorts, the artwork has become part of the cultural heritage of the city and several were declared to be National Historic Landmarks in 1997.

Line A for example is famous worldwide for keeping its rolling stock rolling.  Designed by Labrugeoise, et Nicaise, et Delcuve, a Belgian manufacturer, the cars were built between 1913 and 1919.  They were modified slightly in 1927 for underground use only and many plans were made in the 1940s to replace them, but the plans never materialized.

A subte pass of 2.50 will allow for unlimited riding as long as you don’t cross a turnstile.  Any visitor to the city – native Argentine or foreigner – could enjoy a full days entertainment underground just watching the people, the depots and the artwork go rolling by just outside your window.

3 thoughts on “Take a ride back into history in Buenos Aires

  1. That first photo looks like the old Paris metro carriages when I was a little boy (over 30 years ago) wooden seats and all. I remember they were very uncomfortable and loud. Still, there is a kind of charm about them.

  2. Pingback: Buenos Aires, - Casa Rosada (Think White House for Argentina) - NevadaCounty.com | NevadaCounty.com

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