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Thursday, March 24, 2011

This could be a rant about the Argentine bus system...

...but I'll try to mute my almost-unmitigable rage for the sake of the blogosphere and cultural understanding.

This is a long weekend (4 days); one of the few that I'll have while I'm here. I spent the week using my horrible internet connection as it allowed to try to plan to visit Villa General Belgrano, this German town near Río IV. I even went so far as to reserve a bus ticket ahead of time, just in case they filled up. I went out with friend last night and left them early (circa 3am), missing out on karaoke no less, so that I could come home, finish packing, and get ready for this trip. I wake up early, walk to the square to take a cab, and get to the bus station. I walk to the window marked "reservas" and say something along the lines of "Hello, I have a reservation under ...." The attendant looks at me and says, "oh, no. Not today. There's a paro (stoppage/strike)." I look at her, dumbfounded, and ask why. Apparently, they want more money, so they've decided to stop all national buses today (reminder: today is a key travel day because it's the beginning of a long weekend, and almost everyone travels somewhere). I asked the other ticket stations and they said the same thing. I then asked what other option I had, and they told me I could take a taxi (bus fare is 36 pesos; cab far would be 350 pesos). Yeah, that's a viable option.

Now, I confess that I'm ignorant to the current wages of bus drivers and employees in Argentina, but I don't imagine they're too terribly low. If this is actually a situation where drivers are being oppressed and do deserve higher wages, then I can understand why they would want to strike. If they want more money just because, I'm pissed. What I really have trouble understanding, and this comes from my US-centric point of view, is how the bus company would allow this to happen and not just resolve the issue as soon as possible. On a day like today, I would presume that bus companies make a great deal of money. Instead, they'll be getting 0 pesos, so I have to ask: did they lose more money by not doing anything today than they would have by giving them a temporary raise, or at least agreeing to hold talks after the weekend? I suppose that if you give them an inch that later they'll want a yard, but I just can't fathom why the company wouldn't see it as its job to try to find some other means of transport for its customers or provide them with some sort of voucher for the inconvenience. Of course, this isn't the United States, so I guess I'll just bite my tongue.

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