Buenos Aires Underground

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Buenos Aires Underground
Subterráneo de Buenos Aires
Subte gcba logo.png
Línea H, Andén en la estación Venezuela 02 (Buenos Aires, noviembre 2008).jpg
Line H Orenstein & KoppelSiemens-Schuckert rolling stock
Owner Subterráneos de Buenos Aires S.E. (government corporation)
Locale Buenos Aires
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 6[1]
Number of stations 83[1]
Daily ridership 980,000[1]
Annual ridership 252 million (2013)[2][note 1]
Website Metrovías
Began operation 1 December 1913; 101 years ago (1913-12-01)
Operator(s) Metrovías
Number of vehicles 633[1]
System length 51.4 km (31.9 mi)[1]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(standard gauge)
System map
Red Abril 2014.svg
Dark grey indicates segments under construction, while light grey shows segments approved for construction.

The Buenos Aires Underground (Spanish: Subterráneo de Buenos Aires), locally known as Subte (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsubte], from subterráneo – 'underground' or 'subterranean') is a mass transit subway system that serves the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first section of this network (Plaza de Mayo-Plaza Miserere) opened in 1913.

The network expanded rapidly during the early decades of the 20th century, but the pace of expansion fell sharply after the Second World War. In the late 1990s expansion resumed, with the planning of four new lines. However, the rate of expansion is largely exceeded by the transportation needs of the city and once again the network has become overcrowded. Currently, the underground network's six lines comprise 51.4 kilometers (31.9 mi) of route, serving 83 stations.[1]

At present, Buenos Aires is the only Argentine city with a metro system, but there is a proposal to build a metro in the city of Córdoba (the Córdoba Metro).[3]


Inside a Line B car, circa 1938

Discussions on the need to build an underground transportation system in Buenos Aires began in the late nineteenth century, alongside the tramway system. They operated from 1870 and in about 1900 were in a crisis exacerbated by the monopolization of the companies, a process initiated against the electrification of the system.

In this context, the first proposals for the building of an underground system were made, along with requests for government grants: first, in 1886, and several more in 1889, but the Ministry of Interior (Ministerio del Interior, in Spanish) denied the city administration the power to license building in the subsoil of the City. For this reason, subsequent drafts were submitted directly to this ministry.

When in 1894 it was decided to construct the Congress building in its present location, the subway idea was revived, as it might shorten the travel time between the Casa Rosada and the Congress (with the same purpose there were also plans to build an electric aerial tramway to go down the Avenida de Mayo). Miguel Cané, former Mayor of Buenos Aires (1892–1893), also expressed in 1896 the need to build an underground railway similar to the one in London.

But the various projects failed to raise capital due, according to Miguel Cané, "the reluctance of the English to provide the necessary funds for the construction".

The first subway line was opened on 1 December 1913 and was built by the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company (Compañía de Tranvías Anglo-Argentina (CTAA), in Spanish), which had been given permission to build in 1909. That line was made up of one of the existing sections of line A, linking the stations of Plaza de Mayo and Plaza Miserere. On 1 April 1914 the line was expand to Río de Janeiro station and on 1 July was extended to Primera Junta Station.

In 1912 the company Lacroze Hermanos won a concession to build another subway line. This line is the current line B and was inaugurated on 17 October 1930. In 1933 the Hispano-Argentina Society of Public Works and Finance (Hispano–Argentina de Obras Públicas y Finanzas (CHADOPYF), in Spanish) began construction of the other subway lines.[4]

The entire network was centralised and nationalised during the late 1930s under the management of the Transport Corporation of Buenos Aires (CTBA), which in 1952 was absorbed by the Buenos Aires Transport General Administration (AGTBA).

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 privatised and is now managed by Metrovías S.A. with the stations remaining the property of SBASE.


Former logo of Subterráneos de Buenos Aires
Humberto Iº station on the new line H inaugurated in 2007
Date Opening(s) Closure
1913-12-01 Plaza de MayoPlaza Miserere
1914-04-01 Plaza MiserereRío de Janeiro
1914-07-01 Río de JaneiroPrimera Junta
1930-10-17 Federico LacrozeCallao
1931-07-22 CallaoCarlos Pellegrini
1931-12 Carlos PellegriniLeandro N. Alem
1934-11-09 ConstituciónDiagonal Norte
1936-02-06 Diagonal NorteRetiro
1937-06-03 CatedralTribunales
1940-02-23 TribunalesPalermo
1944-06-20 San JoséGeneral Urquiza
1944-12-16 General Urquiza – Boedo (old)
1960-12-09 General UrquizaBoedo (current) General Urquiza – Boedo (old)
1966-04-24 Boedo (current)Av. La Plata
San JoséBolívar
1973-06-23 Av. La PlataJosé María Moreno
1985-10-07 José María MorenoEmilio Mitre
1985-10-31 Emilio MitreMedalla Milagrosa
1985-11-27 Medalla MilagrosaVarela
1986-05-08 VarelaPlaza de los Virreyes
1987-12-29 PalermoMinistro Carranza
1997-05-31 Ministro CarranzaJosé Hernández
1999-06-21 José HernándezJuramento
2000-04-27 JuramentoCongreso de Tucumán
2003-08-09 Federico LacrozeLos Incas/Parque Chas
2007-10-18 OnceCaseros
2008-12-23 Primera JuntaCarabobo
2010-12-06 OnceCorrientes
2011-10-04 CaserosParque Patricios
2013-05-27 Parque PatriciosHospitales
2013-07-26 Los Incas/Parque ChasJuan Manuel de Rosas
2013-09-27 CaraboboSan Pedrito

Current network[edit]

The current network comprises six underground lines, labelled "A" to "E" and "H" and which are further identified by different colours, covering a total route length of 51.4 kilometers (31.9 mi) and serving 83 stations.[1] There is also one surface 7.4 kilometers (4.6 mi) PreMetro E2 tram line.[1] Daily ridership was approximately 980,000 in 2013.[1] With the current usage patterns, the entire system is overstretched, and during weekdays overcrowded and with insufficient services. An expansion programme is underway, and it is expected to enlarge the network to 97 kilometers (60 mi) in the future.[5]

Fare is ARS 5.00 (around US$0.59). While tokens have been used in the past, at present, riders purchase either single-use or multi-use cards (called SubtePass) with a magnetic strip or use contactless cards called SUBE which can be rechargeable with cash. Trains run from 5:00 until 23:00, every 3–6 minutes, depending on the line considered.[citation needed]

Buenos Aires Underground Lines[1]
Line Colour Date opening Original path Current termini Length
Number of
Línea A (SBASE).svg
Light Blue 1913 Plaza de Mayo - Plaza Miserere Plaza de Mayo - San Pedrito 9.4 18 144,000
Línea B (SBASE).svg
Red 1930 Federico Lacroze - Callao L. N. Alem - Juan Manuel de Rosas 11.8 17 300,000
Línea C (SBASE).svg
Blue 1934 Constitución - Diagonal Norte Constitución - Retiro 4.5 9 162,000
Línea D (SBASE).svg
Green 1937 Catedral - Tribunales Catedral - Congreso de Tucumán 10.5 16 279,000
Línea E (SBASE).svg
Purple 1944 Constitución - Gral. Urquiza Bolívar - Plaza de los Virreyes 9.7 15 68,000
Línea H (SBASE).svg
Yellow 2007 Once - Caseros Corrientes - Hospitales 5.5 8 27,000

Línea P (SBASE).svg PreMetro light rail[edit]

The PreMetro line E2 is a 7.4-kilometer (4.6 mi) tramway feeding the line E of the Buenos Aires Underground. The PreMetro line opened in 1987. It carries approximately 2,300 passengers daily.[1]

Urquiza U 60px.png Urquiza Line[edit]

Línea Urquiza (in English: Urquiza Line) is a 26-kilometer (16 mi)[1] suburban electric commuter rail line originally designed to be part of the subway system, and operated by the subway operator Metrovías, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It runs from the Federico Lacroze terminus in the barrio of Chacarita, to General Lemos terminus, Campo de Mayo in Greater Buenos Aires. The line is completely at grade (ground-level) and uses third rail current collection. It operates 20 hours a day, 7 days a week at 8 to 30 minute intervals. Línea Urquiza transported 15 million passengers in 2013.[1]

In earlier times the line was planned to run into the centre of Buenos Aires through a long tunnel. But when the tunnel was finally built in 1930, it ended up as the B line subway. Línea Urquiza itself opened in 1948, so suburban passengers traveling on the Underground's Line B have to transfer to Línea Urquiza at Federico Lacroze station, named after its builder, about 6 km (3.7 mi) from the city centre.

Stations and connections[edit]

Stations are listed from East to West or North to South. Stations in gray have yet to open. Stations in bold are the current termini.

Línea A (SBASE).svg
Line A
P. de Mayo - Carabobo
Línea B (SBASE).svg
Line B
Leandro N. Alem - Juan Manuel de Rosas
Línea C (SBASE).svg
Line C
Retiro - Constitución
Línea D (SBASE).svg
Line D
Catedral - C. de Tucumán
Línea E (SBASE).svg
Line E
Bolívar - P. de los Virreyes
Línea H (SBASE).svg
Line H
Corrientes - Hospitales

Expansion plans[edit]

There are several projects to improve connections.[5]

Lines according to the future expansion program
New line H and extensions to other lines are under construction

Works in progress[edit]

Línea E (SBASE).svg Line E extension from Bolívar to Retiro (2 intermediate station C. Central and Catalinas) started mid-2007.

Línea H (SBASE).svg Line H extensions to the north from Corrientes to Plaza Francia, serving intermediate stations at Córdoba, Santa Fe and Las Heras, and south from Hospitales with stations at Pompeya and Sáenz, were initiated with ground-breaking ceremonies on 17 January 2012.[6]

New lines planned[edit]

The future expansion is based on the programme Plan of New Lines: Línea F (SBASE).svg, Línea G (SBASE).svg and Línea I (SBASE).svg. These lines' routes have already been approved by the Legislature of the City. 39.3 km will be added to the network, expanding it to about 97 km in total length and providing several stations with various interchanges. This will also create new north-south routes, resulting in an appropriate network to avoid the city centre. The new lines will mean that more than two million inhabitants of Buenos Aires (accounting for about 70% of the city's population) will live within 400m of a metro station. The new lines will run between 56 new stations.

Línea F (SBASE).svg Line F will run from Barracas to Plaza Italia and will include 16 new stations. The planned route length of this line is 10.8 km.

Línea G (SBASE).svg Line G will connect Retiro and Caballito / Villa Crespo; 12.5 km long with 15 new stations. Construction is expected to start in 2012.[7]

Línea I (SBASE).svg Line I will run Parque Chacabuco to Ciudad Universitaria with 18 new stations. The route length is 12.6 km.

Cultural heritage[edit]

Original sign in Pasco station,
line A
Freshly painted old line A cars (2009)
Line A Plaza de Miserere Station platforms, with transfer to the Once station on line H of the underground and rail connections to the Sarmiento suburban line
View of underground station entrance line C in Retiro Station terminus, with connection to Mitre, Belgrano, and San Martin railway lines

The Buenos Aires Underground has historically been characterized by murals and other artistic works in its stations, making a kind of museum throughout the system. These works, and a number of complete stations, are considered part of the cultural heritage of the city and several of them were declared National Historic Landmarks in 1997.[8]

Line A is world-famous because it kept until 2013 its rolling stock running, making them the oldest subway coaches in commercial service in the world. They were built by La Brugeoise, et Nicaise et Delcuve, a Belgian rolling stock manufacturer established in the city of Bruges, between 1913 and 1919. Entirely made of wood, they were originally designed to run as subway as well as tramway cars, but they were adapted in 1927 to their current styling for underground service only. Since the 1940s, several plans have been made to replace them with newer rolling stock, but none of them has succeeded.[9]

In March 2013, La Brugeoise subway coaches were replaced by new, Chinese rolling stock. Old coaches are supposed to be used as an stand for bookstores, as well for doing rides for tourists.

Cultural stations[edit]

Many stations are decorated with intricate ceramic tile work, some of it dating back to 1913 when the subway first opened for business. Featured artists include painters and reproductions by Quino, Molina Campos, Raúl Soldi, Rodolfo Medina and Jorge Schwarz. In addition they provide spaces for music and theater events.

Line B
  • Tronador: In this station there are 18 stained glasses that refer to the history of the Villa Ortúzar neighbourhood, were the station is located.
  • De los Incas – Parque Chas: In this station there are 16 murals related with different Pre-Columbian era civilizations are exhibited.
Line C
  • San Juan:
  • Diagonal Norte: Landscapes of Spain. Ceramic murals that correspond to Burgos, Madrid, Aranjuez, El Escorial and Madrid (Alcalá Door) on South platform, and Avila, Toledo, Soria and Segovia on the North Platform. The drafts were made by Martín S. Noel and Manuel Escasany in 1934.
  • General San Martín: Photographic reproductions of the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) activities, photographic reproductions and images of the Plaza San Martín (San Martín Park) and photographic reproductions of streets and building of the South zone of the City.
Line D
  • Juramento: There are a series of murals exposed in this station that had been reproduced in ceramic by Raúl and Daniel De Francisco.
  • José Hernández: This station has ceramic reproductions of 4 murals made by Raúl Soldi.
  • Olleros: In this station there are showcases exposing works made in the Ceramic School No. 1
Line H

In popular culture[edit]

The subway is featured in the 1996 science fiction film Moebius directed by Gustavo Mosquera. In the film, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of an underground train are investigated by a topologist. The film is based upon the short story, "A Subway Named Möbius" that takes place in the Boston Subway.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This ridership figure includes the Premetro (Line E2) ridership in the total.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Nuestra compañía - ¿Qué hacemos?" [Our Company - What We Do] (in Spanish). Metrovias. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  2. ^ "Informe de Gestíon 2013 Subte" [Management Report 2013 Underground] (in Spanish). Metrovias. p. 6. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  3. ^ Diario La Voz Del Interior
  4. ^ Antecedentes, Inicios, Desarrollo de la red y Líneas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  5. ^ a b "Buenos Aires Metro, Argentina". Railway-Technology.com. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Buenos Aires Line H extension groundbreaking". Railway Gazette International. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  7. ^ "Urban rail news in brief". Railway Gazette International. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  8. ^ Historical National Monuments (Spanish)
  9. ^ BusARG.ar (Spanish)
  10. ^ "A subway named Möbius"

External links[edit]