Rome’s public transportation system is comprehensive and usually pretty convenient. There are, though, a few things you should be aware of when getting around the city. Here we tell you how to avoid some of the problems.
The ticket machines in the Metro don’t take credit cards
Many of them have slot for a credit card, but they don’t work. This isn’t mentioned in English on the machine. (This does not apply to the ticket machines for regular trains.)
The ticket machines in the Metro don’t give more than €6 change
This is mentioned on the machine, but only in Italian. If you only have a €20 bill, you will need to buy at least €14 of tickets or you’ll lose money. Alternatively go to a tobacconist to buy your ticket/s over the counter.
Watch out for the dreaded “sciopero” (strike)
Unfortunately labor relations are not so good in Italy, and strikes, particularly on public transport, are pretty common – one every couple of months or so. Information about them is always posted in advance in the stations. These will be written in Italian, but if you recognise the word SCIOPERO (SHOP-er-o) you can be forewarned, since the dates and times will be written in numbers – though don’t forget they use the European date format of day/month/year. Most strikes don’t take place during rush hour, and taxis are not usually affected, so you’ll be able to plan your trip around them.
Note that by special agreement, the Leonardo Express train to and from Fiumicino Airport is unaffected by strikes.
The Metro shuts early
Both Linea A (orange) and Linea B (blue) stations open at 5.30am and close around 11.30pm. On Friday and Saturday nights the last train leaves at 1.30am.
The bus system is confusing
But if you have a data connection on your smartphone, there’s a site that can help you navigate it easily: Muoversi. They have a free app for Android and iPhone which makes things even easier.
Buses and trams are infrequent
Rome has a comprehensive bus and tram system, but it suffers from extreme infrequency. This author contends that if the city sorted its trams out in particular, it would fix its entire public transport problem. Allow up to 30 minutes for any given tram to arrive, and expect buses not to adhere to any timetable, and to wait 30 minutes to an hour if you are unlucky.
Metro Linea C is still not finished
The ultra-modern, driverless C line (green) that is meant to join the east of the city to the center has been in construction for decades now and shows no sign of completion any time soon. Partly this is due to mismanagement, but also because every time a tunnel is started, the engineers find yet another priceless archaeological site, and work has to stop for it to be investigated. Currently the line is stuck San Giovanni, due to the discovery of a giant underground cistern, and several ancient barracks buildings. If you plan on taking the line (it has a station conveniently located at Pigneto, for example) you have to get out at San Giovanni station then back into the system to Linea A. The double turnstile system does at least allow you to reuse your 100-minute ticket to get back into the system. One day it will cross the entire city to near the Vatican, but don’t hold your breath – they’ve been building it for thirty years now.
There are pickpockets on public transport
Learn how to avoid your stuff being stolen with our guide to avoiding being pickpocketed in Rome.