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Colectivo (English: collective bus) is the name given in Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Paraguay to a type of public transportation vehicle, especially those of Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires. The name comes from vehículos de transporte colectivo ("vehicles for collective transport"), reflecting their origin as shared taxis.[1]

When they first appeared in the 1920s, colectivos were small buses built out of smaller vehicle chassis (cars, vans, etc.) and, later, out of truck chassis (1950–1990, by Mercedes-Benz Argentina),[1] not specifically designed for the transportation of people, and were decorated with unique hand-painted drawings (fileteado) that gave each unit a distinct flavor.

They steadily evolved and grew larger, but kept their picturesque style until the 1990s, when the urban fleet was modernized with standard rear-engined bus units.[1]

During most of their history, tickets were sold by the driver, who would drive off as soon as all passengers had boarded, selling tickets while driving.

Fileteado has been defined as: "art on wheels": full of colored ornaments and symmetries completed with poetic phrases, sayings and aphorisms, both humorous or roguish, emotional or philosophical".[5] The colectivos were where this art found its best canvas. Long, wide mirrors placed around the driver seat often had winding drawings and motifs that usually portrayed the driver's preferences in football, religion and tango. The outside of the units was also painted with fileteado details, flower motifs, national flags, and football team banners. It was also very common to see phrases written down in complex fo

Fileteado has been defined as: "art on wheels": full of colored ornaments and symmetries completed with poetic phrases, sayings and aphorisms, both humorous or roguish, emotional or philosophical".[5] The colectivos were where this art found its best canvas. Long, wide mirrors placed around the driver seat often had winding drawings and motifs that usually portrayed the driver's preferences in football, religion and tango. The outside of the units was also painted with fileteado details, flower motifs, national flags, and football team banners. It was also very common to see phrases written down in complex fonts, usually at the back. These phrases were often ingenious puns or rhymes and became part of Argentine folklore. A simple example of a very common phrase is: Lo mejor que hizo la vieja es el pibe que maneja (loosely "The best thing my mum did was this bus-driving kid").

Other details

The units with a larger budget had more details added around the driver's seat. These usually came in the form of lights of exotic c

The units with a larger budget had more details added around the driver's seat. These usually came in the form of lights of exotic colors or seat covers with wool and fringes or even leather. It was very common to see the gear-stick full of hanging knickknacks and the casing where the tickets and coins were stored covered with motifs.

Before 1995 tickets were sold by the colectivero (driver) as he drove; they were colored strips of paper with a 5-digit number. Palindromic numbers (such as 10301) were called capicuas (from Palindromic numbers (such as 10301) were called capicuas (from Catalan cap i cua, "head and tail") and sometimes collected.

The colectivo bus operations of Buenos Aires provide a widespread and frequent bus service that attracts exceptionally high ridership with virtually no public financial support[6] beyond subsidized petrol to keep fares low.

With low ticket prices, very frequent services, and extensive routes, with many places within 400m of a route, the colectivo is a very widely used mode of transportation around the city. "Porteños" (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires' residents) have a love-hate relationship with the colectivo: on the one hand, they are usually very crowded in rush hour and plagued with pickpockets, petty thieves, beggars and hawkers (itinerant salesmen), though more controlled nowadays. On the other hand, they are a necessity in the city, and a convenient and cheap way to get around. Most colectivos in the big cities of Argentina do not have a fixed timetable, but run at least four, and often many more, services per hour, depending on the bus line and time of day. During night-time, all colectivos in Buenos Aires city run through their stops at least twice an hour.

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