Taking a taxi in Buenos Aires
Hail a cab in Argentina’s capital
With hundreds of bus lines and several subway trains, Buenos Aires is an easy city to manage on public transport. But when you don’t feel like packing into a steamy subway car, or figuring out which of the hundreds of buses takes to take, hailing a cab is an excellent option. With over 40,000 taxis in the city (about one for every 70 inhabitants), you can easily flag down a black and yellow vehicle on almost any street corner. (With the exception of course, of three situations: when there is a subway or bus strike, when Buenos Aires’s torrential rains flood the city, or weekends between 4-6am in Palermo Soho and Hollywood as people leave the boliches [clubs] en masse.)
How to take (or call) a taxi in Buenos Aires
Hailing a taxi is easy! Just to stand on the passenger’s side of the street, look for a taxi with the red and white libre (free) light lit up in the upper left-hand corner of the windshield, then stick out your arm. While most taxis are just fine, it’s best to look for a Radio Taxi, which you can identify by the “Radio Taxi” logo on top or side of the car. Though odds are you’ll be ok in any taxi, Radio Taxi registers all of its drivers and every ride, therefore reducing the chance that your driver will try to scam you (for more safety advice, see below).
Another option is to call a remis, which is a private, unmarked car. If you are heading to the airport, your hotel will likely call a remis for you, as they often specialize in set journeys at a fixed rate.
Avoid taxi scams
Once you’ve waved down your cab, hop in and confidently tell your driver where you’re going. It helps to give them the cross streets rather than the exact address, and to have some idea of where you are headed. If you’re worried about your Spanish, write the address and/or cross streets on a slip of paper and show your driver. Then, buckle up as taxi rides can be notoriously wild!
As mentioned above, avoid unsavory experiences by taking a Radio Taxi or booking a remis ahead of time. For the most part, cab drivers (chofers) are friendly characters who will be thrilled to help you practice your Spanish. However, a few are always on the look out to make an extra peso. Here’s some of the common scams you should try to avoid:
- The Fake Bill: Drivers have been known to accept tourists’ bills, then switch them out for a counterfeit and tell the passenger that they can’t accept a fake. Try to pay your driver in exact change, and if you have to give him a 100 peso note, ostensibly hold the bill up to the light before handing it over, then watch his hands as he gives you change. The only counterfeit bills you need to look out for are 100 and 50 peso notes, and if you think your taxista has given you one for change, ask for a different bill.
- The Gringo Tour: Detecting a strong accent, some drivers will take you on a round-about route in order to milk the fare. Avoid this situation by waving a taxi heading in the direction of where you are going, and try to be more or less familiar with the route. If the prospect of figuring out where you are in this enormous city seems daunting, fake it! Show that you are paying attention by reading street signs and watching where the driver goes. Confidence is key.
- The Speedy Meter: Though uncommon, there are rigged meters in some taxis. Make sure the driver has turned on the meter once you tell him where you’re going, and watch to make sure it’s only going up every 200 meters, or 40 seconds in traffic. If you think the meter is going too quickly, you can ask by pointing at the meter, but you should probably get out and hail a new cab to avoid a ridiculous price.
These are the most common things to look out for, but if you want to read more about taxi opportunists, check out this article on Landing Pad BA.
Pricing of taxis
If you ask an Argentine or someone who’s been living in BA for a while, taxis are exorbitantly expensive; don’t worry, that’s just inflation talking! Traveling by taxi is quite affordable. The drop rate (as of March 2015) is 14.30 pesos during the day and 17.10 pesos at night, between 10pm and 6am (so about $1.20 to $1.40 US Dollars), and goes up 1.43 pesos (or 1.71 pesos at night) per 200 meters. If you’d like to get an estimate about how much your journey should cost ahead of time, check out the website Viajo en Taxi. You can type in your location and destination and the site will give you an estimate of how much it should cost. Keep in mind, all depends on traffic!
Try to carry small bills, especially for shorter journeys, as change is often difficult to come by in Buenos Aires.
Suggested taxi companies and drivers
Easy Taxi is an app for the iPhone and Android which allows you to call a cab. The application locates the taxi nearest your location (as determined by GPS), then sends you information about your driver including their name, a photo, phone number, and car model. You can follow the taxi’s location on a map, all of which helps assure you get a safe taxi.
[Photo credit: Easy Taxi’s Facebook]
We recently interviewed Buenos Aires chauffer Dario Wigodzky. Read our interview here, and e-mail Dario to request an airport transfer at email@example.com.
Call a normal Radio Taxi with Taxi Premium at (54-11) 5238-0000. The operator may perhaps speak English, but it is unlikely. Make sure to tell them the address where you need the taxi, and when. Expect also to be asked for a phone number.
For a luxury car service with a native English speaker, we recommend Silver Star Transport.
Taking a taxi from Ezeiza International Airport
When you arrive at the Ezeiza International Airport, make sure to avoid any problems by booking a cab with an official taxi company like Taxi Ezeiza. The Taxi Ezeiza booth is inside the airport, directly opposite arrivals, and your cab is booked and paid for before leaving the terminal building. Do not say yes to anyone offering a cab who is not at an official booth – Ezeiza airport is the one place where even the black and yellow city cabs shouldn’t be trusted. Approach the booth and give them the address where you are staying, then you can either choose to pay ahead of time or at the end of your journey, but the rate will definitely be a fixed price. With Taxi Ezeiza, a cab should cost AR$400 as of February 2015 (between US$30 and USD$48, depending on which exchange rate you use). You can pay in dollars or euros if necessary.