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How to use public transportation in Rome

Published on August 2, 2018 by C. P.

Tram in Rome by Wikimedia user JoJan

The public transport system for the metropolitan city of Rome is based on a network of different means of transportation: one single ride ticket can get you on just the one or all of the following, granted you stay within city limits.

  • Tram: there are six tram lines in Rome. Some of them are strategic to move between areas that are more and more on the tourists’ radar, such as Testaccio, Monteverde, Pigneto.
  • Subway: there are currently 5 subway lines in Rome (well, four and a half for nitpickers!). The main obstacle to having more lines is the sheer amount of archaeological remains below street level. For this reason, the average visitor will mostly use the bus system to get around, but some subway stops will prove crucial for getting fast to important landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps (with Fontana di Trevi at a walking distance from there) or, among many others,  the park at Villa Borghese.
  • City trains: with routes made recognisable by codes from “FL1” (this one has one of its terminals at the airport at Fiumicino, so you might already be familiar with it) to “FL8”, these 8 lines are lifesavers for the overwhelming amount of commuters headed to work or to class, however they are also extremely convenient for tourists wanting to visit Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican, Hadrian’s Villa or Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Castel Gandolfo and the papal mansion there or Civitavecchia to connect with their cruise (these are just some of the most popular uses of the train network). These trains can be referred to in conversation as “regional trains” (as they cover, technically, the whole Lazio region) and are effectively used as an extension of the subway network.
  • Buses: if you’re staying in one of From Home to Rome’s apartments in the city center, chances are you’ll only get to experience the extensive bus network there, as the general area around the most important landmarks is extremely compact and walkable but a bus passing through comes in handy anyway – it’s always nice, especially after a long day, to have a little extra help when it comes to come back home! Plus, they can act as excellent alternatives to the Hop On Hop Off tourist buses – at a fraction of their prices, too! But we’ll explain more in a dedicated, upcoming post!
  • Light trains: unlikely you’ll ever get on one, as they don’t cover the city center. However, they are a handy alternative to get to such areas as Saxa Rubra, Euclide and the general Parioli area, Pigneto or Torpignattara.
  • Suburban buses: the only public company participating in the combined public transport network is called Cotral. It’s useful if you’re planning to get to an area outside Rome that is otherwise not reached by a train, but given these blue buses cover a lot of ground, it’s unlikely that you will get to use one with a single ride ticket during your stay!

How to use the tickets and how much do they cost?

Now, on to the tickets: this is the real upside to the whole Roman mass transit system. A single ride ticket is 1,50 Euros: once stamped (at the turnstiles before accessing the subway, at the yellow boxes aboard trams and buses or at the white/green/red ones in train stations) it will allow the users 100 minutes to complete their trek, which can be done by combining any means of transportation. Obviously you can take just the one if your commute is simple enough. The only rule to remember is that the subway can be used just the one time if you’re boarding it a single ride ticket.

If you’re considering using the subway more than once, and using other means of transportation multiple times too, then you’ll maybe want to consider buying a pass instead of a bunch of single ride tickets. Different types available will let you ride any type of public transport for a whole day, for two or three days in a row, for a whole week (obviously there are monthly and annual passes available, but these are seldom useful to tourists). An overview of all available tickets can be found at the official ATAC website, which is the public bus company in Rome.

Can I travel to the airports in Ciampino and Fiumicino with a single ride ticket?

The answer is yes… and no. Ciampino is still technically within Rome’s city limits, whereas Fiumicino is not. That’s why the express train to the airport there or the FL1 city train to Leonardo da Vinci have different prices. You can get to the J.B. Pastine airport in Ciampino, on the other hand, with a combination of subway + bus (even though you might want to consider a different means of transportation, as getting to Ciampino takes a long time).

Combined museum + public transport passes

The most popular pass for both foreign and national travellers in Rome at this point seems to be the Roma Pass. We have detailed the differences between the various types of city passes at this address, but know that a Roma Pass is useful when you want to visit certain major museums or monuments in Rome and are considering using mass transit for moving from one to the other. There are other advantages too, such as discounts and special offers if you show your pass at select establishments, so it’s something to really consider when you are planning spending more than just a couple of days in a city like Rome.

The breakdown: is the public transport system useful?

If you’re staying in one of our managed accommodations, you’ll be in close proximity to many a landmark, and you’ll probably won’t ever hop on a bus. However, if you have mobility issues, are travelling with a child, or have other reasons to not wanting to walk for 15-20 minutes from one monument to another, the alternative is there for you to use, and it’s a reliable and cheap one!

Category: Rome 101

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