In 2014, Buenos Aires won the prestigious Sustainable Transit Award for its efforts to reduce high traffic volumes on roadways within the city. This was achieved by increasing the amount of bus lanes on 9 de Julio Avenue, which is the widest city street in the world. Since over four million people commute into the city from the suburbs to work every day, there became a space problem for highways as the population increased. Since implementing this new bus system, travel times we cut in half for over 200 000 commuters on the avenue and CO2 emissions lowered by about 5600 tonnes per year. Coupled with an extensive underground subway system (which, surprisingly was not overly difficult to navigate- I only got semi-lost once), Buenos Aires seems to be well on its way to reduce its CO2 emissions 30% by 2030. My experience as a tourist in the city in regards to transit were mainly positive- the city was easy to get around and extremely inexpensive- around 50 cents or less per ride.
Being in such a bustling, busy city could be overwhelming at times. Even with the increased use of buses, being a pedestrian during rush hour meant sprinting across the street during the smallest break in traffic, otherwise you will never make it across. Traffic rules and signage are viewed to be recommendations, not requirements, and speed limit as a general guideline. Surprisingly, Buenos Aires has over 200 parks and green spaces within city limits. I first found this out when our group stumbled upon a huge Japanese-style garden just blocks away from the city centre. It was the perfect solace from the noisy downtown while still being extremely accessible. Historically, most parks initially existed as land estates for the wealthy elite, and were later preserved and maintained as green spaces and historic sites. The frequency of parks drastically increases the air quality and livability of the city, as most people live in apartments. I’ll admit that it was strange to sit underneath a cherry-blossom tree while surrounded by skyscrapers, but definitely a welcome surprise.