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Buenos Aires' Bus Turístico, the capital's sightseeing bus for tourists, re-launched with a renewed service and fleet last Sunday, promising new tour circuits, better presentations and guides, improved comfort and new technology.
The changes have in fact been made by two separate tourist bus companies. Buenos Aires Bus, whose buses are yellow, is a local company, whereas Gray Line, whose buses are red, are a larger tourist company, who run routes in New York and London. Though the City's buses tour different routes, they coincide at some of the most important tourist hotspots in the capital – such as the Bombonera stadium in La Boca.
The decision to open up the market to another business was based on the capital's recent success with tourism. According to the City government’s Tourism Agency, last year the city welcomed almost three million international visitors.
With respect to the bus tours themselves, Buenos Aires Bus and Gray Line have improved the equipment, comfort, and service. Vehicles now include as many as nine languages of audio guides, which are activated through geolocation data, offer WiFi to customers and buying tickets is now easier, thanks to the introduction of QR codes.
Tours are also now more environmentally friendly, as the new buses abide by Euro 5 regulations which limit emissions. Questions about accessibility have also been addressed, with the deployment of technology that allows the routes to be explained using sign language.
The new fleets can both carry up to 55 passengers at any one time. Tours will now circulate between 9am and 7pm every day, with buses leaving stops every 20 minutes. Additionally, the upper level of buses are now enclosed, with air conditioning or heating available, according to the time of year.
At each of the tour bus' 38 stops, passengers will have access to WiFi and will be able to know when a bus is leaving, and what attractions are in the local neighbourhood.
Gray Line tickets will cost 870 pesos for 24 hours for Argentines, while the price for international tourists is US$29. The cost of the yellow City bus is a bit lighter on the pocket: 700 pesos for 24 hours for residents and 1.700 pesos for outside visitors.
Both services allow tourists to hop on and off at their leisure over a given time period – either 24, 48 or 72 hours.
The yellow buses route includes stops at Recoleta, the Teatro Colón, Avenida de Mayo, the Plaza del Congreso, the Paseo de la Historieta, Plaza Dorrego, Palermo, Parque Lezama, Boca Juniors' La Bombonera stadium, La Boca, the Puente de la Mujer and the Reserva Ecológica.
The red line passes by the Floralis Genérica, the MALBA modern art museum, the Planetario, Parque de la Memoria, River Plate's Monumental stadium, el Argentine Polo Ground, the Monumento a los Españoles, el National Museum of Decorative Art, as well as Recoleta the Teatro Colón, and other attractions.
“Working with two companies demonstrates the sustained growth of international tourism that Buenos Aires has been registering. It is a good sign that shows that the City is one of the fastest growing urban destinations in the world,” Gonzalo Robredo, the president of the City Government's Tourism Agency, told Perfil.