It’s not always reliable, but it’s cheap and there’s a lot of it.
Public transport in Rome is extremely good value for money. One very cheap ticket allows you to use almost all means of transport in the city apart from taxis. Bus tickets, subway trains, trams (streetcars) are all owned by the same company, which is called ATAC, and therefore you can hop on any of their services using the same ticket.
The bad news is it can be unreliable, slow, and subject to delays and strikes.
Where can I buy a ticket for the Rome public transport system?
Tickets are available from machines at all Metro stations. These machines allow you to select an English Language interface (shown by the British flag not the stars and stripes). They take euro bills and coins, but not credit cards even though many of them have a credit card slot. But beware: they never dispense more than €6 in change (resto)! The machine will happily eat your €20 bill but won’t give any of it back until you’ve bought €14 worth of tickets. Finally the depressingly common fuori servizio or guasto signs both mean ‘out of order’.
You can also buy these tickets in most tabacchi – tobacco stores, distinguished by the “T” sign outside. Go to the cash register and ask for un biglietto (oon bee-YET-oh) or “X biglieti” ([number] bee-YET-ee”).
What do I need to know about the Rome Metro?
Rome’s Metro is very simple indeed – basically it’s just a big X that meets in Termini. There are two fully viable lines: Linea A (red) and Linea B (blue). Linea B splits at Bologna and either goes to Rebbibia or Jonio. There is a third line, Linea C (green), which is partially constructed. Despite the optimism of the map below, modern, driverless Linea C only actually only runs between Lodi and Montecompatri. The completion of this line and its joining to the rest of the system (initially planned to be at San Giovanni station) is constantly hampered by various issues including the continual discovery of extensive archaeological ruins.
Can I use my transport ticket on other train lines?
Lines shown below can all be accessed with the ATAC tickets mentioned below. This includes all the way to the beachside town of Ostia – you can honestly get there for €1.50 each way! Note for the gray lines, stations in red indicate the furthest extent of ticket validity. Beyond these stations you will need to be in possession of a rail ticket.
What kind of ticket should I buy to use the Rome public transport system?
There are numerous kinds of ticket available:
- 100 minutes. Probably the best value for money for individual trips, this gives you just over 1 and a half hours to use ANY means of transport mentioned above (although it only allows one ride on the Metro), for the teensy price of €1.50. Note that these are the standard tickets available from the tabaccaio.
- Day ticket. Not recommended. It costs €7 and expires at midnight of the day you buy it. It’s only good value if you take at least five journeys more than 100 minutes apart, which is probably unlikely.
- 48 hour. €12.50. Also poor value: see ‘day ticket’ above.
- 72 hour. Again, a false economy. If you need transport for three days and are sightseeing too then it’s probably worth considering a RomaPass instead.
- Weekly ticket. €24, which means you need to make 16 journeys in seven days in order to break even. It expires at midnight on the seventh day, so unless you buy one early in the morning you are automatically cheated out of half a day.
In all of the above ‘daily’ cases, unless you’re going far and wide with many journeys, it’s probably far more cost-effective to fill your wallet with a small stack of 100-minute tickets since they don’t expire and can be rolled over to the next day.
- Monthly ticket. The tessera mensile is amazingly good value at only €35 for unlimited travel. If you’re staying for a while it’s definitely worth considering. However these cards only run from the first day of the calendar month to the last, so if you arrive mid-month you should probably consider other options. Available from ticket offices in major stations.
- RomaPass. If you’re touring Rome for three days or so, this is very good value. It gives you free public transport for three days (not 72 hours: it expires at midnight on the third day after you buy it), as well as free entrance to two museums, not including the Vatican. Read more about the RomaPass.
How do I validate my ticket?
When you board the Metro or commuter train, you pass through a turnstile that will automatically validate your ticket for you (it prints the expiry time and date on the back of the ticket using the word “scadenza”). However if you take a bus or a tram you have to do the validation yourself – if it is the first time you have used your ticket during its allotted time period. If you’ve already validated it once and it’s still valid, you don’t need to do this, and nor do you need to validate a travel pass such as the RomaPass. Note that travelling without a validated ticket can get you a €150 fine.
Once you have figured out which bus or tram to take – try this website – board the bus and you will note a little blobby machine attached to a pillar at the front and back of the vehicle. Insert your ticket and it will be stamped with the expiry on the back, and you’re good to go. (If the bus is particularly crowded, and you wave your ticket and indicate the machine, the friendly Roman crowd will usually pass it to the machine for validation then pass it back to you!)