If the 152 is your favorite colectivo or you can only name two buses that go down Las Heras, the following ain’t for you.
This goes out to everyone who can spit out at least four ”ramales” on the 60. This is for my people who can bus it from Retiro to Belgrano or Flores to Palermo without consulting the Guia ‘T’ . This is for select few who’ve been on a colectivo above 200. Get out your monedas, hop on board and allow me to rock your colectivo world.
Getting On- Part I
Minimizing the Wait
Let’s suppose you’re on Cabildo heading south with Plaza Italia as your final destination. Even a basic bus rider knows that almost any colectivo will take you where you need to go. The real question now becomes, ”what’s the best way to minimize the wait?”
There are two main factors to consider here: the frequency of each colectivo and your current position in relation to this frequency. Do you walk two blocks to get the ever-passing 60 or do you chance it with the close-by 41 stop? Unfortunately, this is a fairly new academic field and much research is yet to be done on the subject. My amateur observations have led me to conclude that first one should find the closest block with bus stops (they’re usually placed in clumps). Typically a glance down the street will suffice. Once you commit to this block, position yourself between two stops, thereby allowing you to quickly maneuver to either. Then we play the waiting game. On a weekday afternoon this should take no more than 3-4 minutes.
(I realize that in this particular case, and perhaps several others, the subway might actually be the best time-saver; but public transportation time-efficiency is not the aim of this article.)
Flagging It Down
There is a subtle art of informing the driver of your desire to board his vehicle. The unaware passenger might falsely assume that if the woman in the front of the line has her arm extended and is flagging down the bus, then it is not necessary to do the same. Amateur. We all must signal the driver. That way he knows how many people wish to board, which in turn allows him to concentrate better on the street in front of him while the passengers get on.
Another good reason for this is to prepare yourself for the ”false flagging” (no pun intended) of the blind old ladies. Countless times do I see senior citizens signaling any 60 that passes by, only to wave them off at the last minute when they realize it’s not the correct ”ramal.” With a city full of false flaggers, one could easily miss the bus if he doesn’t signal as well.
Simply put: always flag down your bus.
However, be careful not to signal too late nor too early. The drivers never won their bout with the city over exclusive bus lanes (with a few exceptions), so the right lane is riddled with taxis. An ill-timed flag down could confuse a taxi driver, and if he turns on the blinkers, this sends the wrong message to the bus driver.
Pregnant women, senior citizens, parents with toddlers, and cheta cougars reserve the right to board before the others for obvious reasons. The idea is to get on as quickly as possible so the driver can close the door and keep moving. Be prepared to cram.
Also have your monedas ready and your iPod paused. If you’re the last one to board a crowded bus, give the driver an affirmative ”dale” so he knows to close the door and continue down the road.
Hopefully some of this extremely geeky information has heightened your colectivo awareness, thereby ever so slightly improving the flow of traffic here in the city.
Stay tuned for next week’s sequel: On Board . Oh it’s on….!!!