Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rome on a Budget: How to Take Public Transportation

“Don't spend money on things... spend money on experiences. You'll enjoy life a lot more!” Ziad K. Albdernour

They say when there's a will, there's a way and there is certainly a way to see #Rome on a #budget. Rome is such and enchanting city that just sitting on one of its many piazzas and enjoying a two euro gelato can make for a perfect day.  Think Julia Roberts on Eat Pray Love, you know what I mean!

The center of Rome is small enough that, if you are in for the challenge, you can just walk from one must-see place to the other and hop on a bus when you are trying to cover longer distances, that is if you can figure out how the public transportation system works.  Here are a few tips that will make your experience a little bit easier.

1.  You will need a ticket: A one time ticket costs one euro fifty and it can be purchased in any #Tabacchi (tobacco) store.  There are Tabacchi stores all around Rome and the ones in the city center are certainly used to visitors.  The tickets are not dated nor route-specific so you can buy a bunch to last you the length of your visit.  The same tickets are used in #buses, #metro and trams.

2. You certainly need to arm yourself with a good map to plan your route.  ATAC, the agency that administers public transpo in Rome, has published this official map (click here) of transportation in the city center.  #Bus lines are identified by a number and each bus stop lists the route of your bus line.  A bus stop normally serves several lines and it looks like the one pictured on the right.

3.  On the suggested map you can follow the route of your bus by just following the bus line number along the map.  It reminds me of the game connect the dots. Tip: sit by the window so you can identify your position by looking at the street signs and following the route on your map.

Validating machine inside tram.
4. Once you board the bus it's time to VALIDATE YOUR TICKET! This is a very important step.  The tickets you bought are not valid until you punch them on the validating machines inside the buses or trams.  Once you validate your ticket two lines will be printed on the back of your ticket, one with the time you started using the ticket and the other with the time when it will expire; you have an hour and a half to travel in the public transportation system with that same ticket.  Don't mind it if you are the only one validating the ticket.  Most Romans hold monthly or yearly tickets that don't need validation.  Every so often there are controllers that board the bus and ask everyone for their tickets.  If you don't have a validated ticket you will be fined!

5. Rome has two metro lines, the A and the B line.  They form an X on the map.  The same ticket you bought for the bus can be used to take the metro, however, once the ticket is used to enter a metro station, it cannot be used to enter another metro station even if it hasn't expired.  It is still OK to make a connection with a bus line after your metro ride.

6.  You can hop on and off different bus lines, trams and metro without having to re-validate the ticket every time.  Just validate the first time and keep the ticket handy until it expires.

7.  When it's time to get off the bus, press the red stop button (located in several handrails) and the bus will stop on the next stop.   The bus will not stop unless someone on the bus requested it by pressing the button.  So don't count on the bus stopping at every bus stop on the route.

8.  There are also trams around the city and the system works just like the buses. Check your route, get in, validate, press the stop button, get out.


As mentioned in my article "10 Things to Know Before Traveling to Italy", public transportation strikes in Rome are frequent.  Check the ATAC website for updates.  Lastly, watch your belongings specially in crowded buses.  The buses leading to Sain Peter's and to the #Termini train station are infamous for being frequented by #pickpocketers.  Be smart, keep your bag in front of you and your money in different pockets.

Go places and enjoy the ride! Arrivederci for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment