Public Transport In Rome – Part 1

I have been taking public transport in Rome since the very first day I got there.  It’s not because I don’t have an Italian driver’s license (which I studied a lot for and this story is for another day) but parking and people driving with so much disorder just freaks me out.

Public Transport in Rome - Guide- Part 1

Although public transport in Rome may not be the most efficient, it gets me where I need to go without having to deal with parking.  There are some places in Rome where finding parking is close to impossible!  Getting to places takes time so plan well ahead as you never know how long you need to wait for a bus.

I have had to inform many friends how to use the public transport in Rome and been approached by tourists.  It can be confusing but it is actually very simple. I hope to provide you with sufficient information to help you easily take public transport in Rome.

Guide to Taking Public Transport in Rome

As this topic is very extensive, it is broken down into several parts.  Part 1 is about the types of tickets, where to buy them and validating them.  The second part of this series will cover the metro routes and how to check bus routes.  Let’s get started with Part 1.

Types of Tickets

If you are visiting Rome, there are mainly 4 tickets which you would consider purchasing depending on your needs and length of stay.

Updated May 22, 2012 - Effective May 25 2012, there is going to be a price increase in all the tickets mentioned below.  They have been noted accordingly. More details on the official website (Italian).

1. Biglietto Integrato a Tempo (BIT) – Integrated Time Ticket – Cost  €1.50

This ticket is valid for 75 minutes 100 minutes from the time it is validated.  You can use it to take unlimited number of rides with buses and trams within that time frame but it is only valid for 1 metro ride.

Public transport in Rome: New BIT

New BIT Ticket reflecting price and duration

Updated – With the new fare of €1.50 the validity of the ticket has been extended to 100 minutes.  If you still have €1 tickets, they are valid until July 31st.  After that period from August 1st to October 31st, you can turn them in and pay the price difference.

2. Biglietto Integrato Giornaliero (BIG) – Integrated Daily Ticket – Cost €6

This ticket is valid for the day with unlimited buses, trams and metro rides.  What you need to keep in mind is that it’s not valid for 24 hours from the time it is validated but rather it is only good to midnight of the day it is used.

If you have the ticket validated at 10.00am it doesn’t mean it’s good until 10.00am the next day! Friends and family usually get worked up over this but then they admit that in general, the cost of public transport in Rome is inexpensive.

3. Biglietto Turisto Integrato (BTI)Integrated Tourist TicketCost €16.50

This ticket is valid for 3 days with unlimited buses, trams and metro rides. It’s valid until midnight of the 3rd day and not 72 hours.

4. Carta Integrata Settimanale (CIS) – Integrated Weekly Ticket – Cost €24

This ticket is valid for 7 days with unlimited buses, trams and metro rides. It’s valid until midnight of the last day.

If you are here in Rome for a month, there is also the monthly pass.  It costs €35 with unlimited usage on buses, trams and metro.

Public transport in Rome: New Monthly Ticket

For more information, please visit the ATAC website (Azienda Tramvie ed Autobus del Comune di Roma).  ATAC is basically Rome’s public transport authority.

Public Transport in Rome – Where To Purchase Tickets

Now you know which tickets are available, where do you buy them?  Unlike most places, you need to buy the ticket before boarding public transport in Rome.

However, that is slowly changing as some buses now have machines where you can buy BIT tickets on board.   To be safe, buy the tickets before you get on because you don’t which bus has this option.

There are several places which to purchase tickets and monthly pass.

1. Tabbacaio (Tobbaconist) – You can spot them easily as they will have this sign outside. Updated: A friend wanted to buy a ticket and naturally, we stopped at the tabbacaio.  They said, they had run out of them too but fortunately, the next one had tickets.

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets from Tabacchi

2. Newstands – However, not all newstands have the tickets.

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets from Newstands

3. Automatic Machines - You usually find them in the Metro stations and usually there is one near a main bus terminal.

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets from Machines

You can choose the language so it’s easy to use it and shows the different types of ticket options.  The monthly pass cannot be bought from these machines.  If you want to buy a monthly pass, you can do so at the tabacchi shops.

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets from Machines - Language Selection

When buying from these automated machines, keep in mind that they can’t give you back change of more than €4.  I once saw a tourist who bought four BIT tickets (€4 in total) and he was putting in a €10 and the machine kept spitting it out.  He couldn’t figure out why and I pointed this sign out to him as a possible cause.

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets from Machines - Change

4. On Buses – Again, not all buses have this and so you are better off buying tickets before getting on. As you can see from the photo below, you can only purchase BIT tickets and you need to have exact coins!

Public Transport in Rome - Purchase Tickets on Buses

Updated May 22, 2012 – These machines are currently out of service as they are being upgraded to issue tickets at the new price.  They will be in service again after May 28th, 2012

Public transport in Rome Part 1 - Machines on Bus out of service

One common question I get is what if you don’t have tickets to get on the bus or tram.  It’s not the bus driver’s job to check if you have a ticket before getting on so you could technically still get on board.  However, there are conductors who randomly come on board to check if everyone has a ticket.

How often has this happened?  From my own experience, I have seen them do checks about 4-5 times a year and usually the first week of the month.

And if you get caught without a ticket?  That has happened me to once as I completely forgot to buy a monthly pass at the beginning of the month. I got a fine of €50 if paid on the spot or double if you pay later.  I asked them “Do you take credit cards?” and yes I was serious. Obviously, they said no and I had to find an ATM to pay them cash!

Important – Validate the Tickets

Metro

If you take the metro, the ticket is automatically validated as you need to insert it before going through the gates. Insert the tickets usually with the back up and in the direction of the arrow.

Public Transport in Rome - Validate Tickets - BIT Back

Public Transport in Rome - Validate Tickets - Metro

Don’t forget to take the ticket before going through the gates.  You may get checked when you exit at your destination.

Public Transport in Rome - Validate Tickets - Take Ticket

Buses and Trams

Having a ticket and not validating it is the same as not having a ticket.  When you get on board, validate your ticket at the yellow validation machines.  There is one at the front and another at the back of the bus.

Public Transport in Rome - Validate Tickets - On Bus

Once your ticket is validated, you will see the time that it was validated and if you have bought a BIT (valid for 100 minutes) it would also show you the time it expires.  See the new BIT ticket above

Public Transport in Rome - Validate Tickets - BIT

Even if you are taking the Leonardo Express from the Airport to Termini Station, you also need to validate your tickets.

If the validation machines are out of order (and it happens!), using a pen, write down the date and time of travel on the ticket.

While this post covers getting around with public transport in Rome, you may want to venture past the walls of the city and explore the Lazio region.  Here’s a very informative post on traveling in Lazio using public transportation.

Hopefully, with Part 2 of Public Transport in Rome you will have sufficient information to help get around the city with ease.  In my opinion, taking public transport in Rome is probable the best way in getting around as it is affordable and covers the main sites.

Comments

  1. Your tips are awesome! It is so hard to know the different rules in each country/city we visit. I loved that you listed where to buy the tickets too because in Budapest this summer I didn’t know where to buy them and couldn’t find anyone who could tell me this. I figured it out but it would have been great to know ahead of time!

    I love taking public transportation!

    • Diana says:

      Hi Debbie,

      I wrote this post to help precisely to help people make sense of public transport in Rome. Like you have said, eventually they will figure it out but knowing the “how-tos” ahead of time, makes the vacation a bit less stressful. I always had to explain to friends and family how to take public transport that I figured it will be easier to write a post about it and refer them they.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your thoughts. It’s much appreciated!

      All the best,
      Diana

  2. Tom says:

    Great post. One more bit of handy advice is to be on the lookout for this sign, usually on a circular metal disk at the stop: “la fermata e’ stata sopresa” which means, this stop is no longer active!

    • Diana says:

      Hi Tom,

      You are absolutely right! I just happened to see one today as it has been moved 100 meters forward. Also I need to get a photo of the temporary bus stop sign so visitors are not hopelessly waiting around at the previous bus stop.

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi, can anyone tell me please can we buy the Carta Integrata Settimanale (CIS) – Integrated Weekly Ticket at the airport when we arrive, and then use it on the train to the centre of Rome, and back?? We are fliying into Fiumicino airport.
    Thanks

    • Diana says:

      Hi Sarah,

      You could probably buy a CIS at the train station at the airport but it won’t be valid on the Leonardo Express which is the train you would take from Fiumicino to the centre of Rome (Termini Station). That is a separate ticket. Hope this helps.

  4. MARIA says:

    I WILL BE IN ROME ON DEC FOR 3 DAYS.
    PLANNING TO BUY 3 DAYS TICKET, DO I HAVE TO VALIDATE EVERYTIME I USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT?

    PLEASE HELP .

    THANKS !

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