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In Buenos Aires, fares rise amid few coins

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  • Paucity of coins in Buenos Aires coincides with bus fare hike
  • Coins are necessary for any ride on a city bus
  • Buses don't accept paper money
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By Javier Doberti
CNN
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- Fares increased by as much as 25 percent on mass transit in the Argentine capital, sparking a round of grumbling among some straphangers about the cost and paucity of coins necessary for city bus rides.

Buses don't accept paper money.

"There's a scarcity of coins," one person said. "To be able to get them, we have to stand on line, which is a disaster."

The long lines of passengers waiting to get coins are duplicated at stations around the city, which will change the equivalent of only about six dollars per person. Meanwhile, a black market has sprung up where coins are sold at 10 percent above face value.

"I'm going to pay a peso and three-quarters," said Clemencia Gonzalez, a passenger in the capital, as she prepared to enter the subway. "Every day I have to pay that, going and coming. Where am I going to get the money to cover the whole month? A person doesn't earn what he has to earn."

Another passenger took a more conciliatory stance. "I always agreed that the price should rise, always ... when they establish good service."

Said another: "It's not that it's expensive; the point is that everything is rising in price and the salaries remain low."

Despite the grumbling, Buenos Aires residents fare better than their fellow Argentines. Even with the price hike on Tuesday, public transportation in the capital remains the cheapest in the country, where in some provinces, fares are 80 percent more expensive.

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