The postcard image of this proud city is Avenida 9 de Julio, a triumphant boulevard that is by some accounts the widest street in the world. There’s two parts to the picture everyone knows. One is the towering Obelisk commemorating the founding of Buenos Aires. The other is the 20 lanes of traffic commemorating the city’s love of cars.
In the past year, half of that image has changed dramatically. City work crews ripped out four of those traffic lanes in the middle of the roadway. In just seven months, they gave the space entirely to buses and the people who ride them.
Buses used to be stuck in the mix of traffic on 9 de Julio, jostling with with cars, taxis and trucks. Now, buses have their own lanes for 3 km before peeling off into traffic to get to their destinations. More than 200,000 commuters, many of them traveling to or from the suburbs, enjoy a faster ride that also makes a subway transfer obsolete.
Marcelina Rodríguez is one of them. “This is really good,” says Rodríguez, who lives in the suburb of Avellaneda, south of the city, and commutes daily to her work downtown. “It used to take me an hour to reach downtown. Now I can do it in 40 minutes.”