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Public transportation in Rome can be nerve-racking. It's not unusual to wait for a long time for a bus, and while the subway is very frequent, the city is served by only two metro lines, making it hard sometimes to get to neighborhoods in the outskirts. The city center is well served by many bus routes, so tourists will find it easy to move from an area to another.
One of the most popular buses downtown is number 64, connecting the main train station Termini to San Pietro Station and going past all the main tourist draws such as Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori and the Vatican. Since this bus is indeed very handy to get about historic areas, it's very popular among tourists, so it's recommended to be very careful and keep your valuables always close at hand as pickpockets are pretty active.
The two metro lines, A and B (or red and blue), serve the city center, with only line B reaching the more residential district of Eur. The local council has been trying to build the third metro line for ages, and although Italian administration is notoriously slow, it's a fact that every time workers start digging some new ruins dating back Roman or Etruscan times come to light, causing yet another halt and leading proud Romans to be more patients in the wait for this much needed line C.
The metro lines intersect at Termini Station, where is also a huge bus station with buses connecting to many areas of the city. Bus stops along the streets are very consumer-friendly, with big signs showing what buses travel there and their respective routes.
The company managing buses, metro and tram is Atac, and their website has daily updates and useful tools such as an efficient route planner.
Rome is also served by overground trains serving important hubs such as Ostiense and Trastevere, from where you can take the train to Fiumicino Airport. On these trains, even though operated by Trenitalia, passengers can use the same ticket valid for buses and subway.
A single ticket costs €1.5 and can be used for one metro trip, one train trip and unlimited bus trips within 100 minutes from the first validation. There are also other options that can save you some money if you think you will use public transport often: a daily ticket valid until midnight on the day of validation will cost you 6€, a three-day ticket is €16.50, a weekly ticket costs 24€ and 35€ buys you a monthly pass.
Tickets can be bought at metro stations, newsstands, bars and small stores selling also phone cards and cigarettes. You can easily spot them as they usually show the typical black-and-white sign “Sali e Tabacchi”.
Public transportation in Rome can often be equated to a game of roulette-- you never know what you will get, but sometimes it could be in your favor. ATAC, Rome's public transport system, courses throughout the city by tram, bus and metro, and is filled with passengers from all ages and walks of life. Bus stops are quite visible with bright yellow signs that pepper every street and each sign lists bus lines (by number and name) and their respective stops.
The key to Rome's public transportation is patience, which is aided by consulting the ATAC webpage for ticket purchasing, arrival times and path configuration. On the site, you can enter in departure and destination address and ATAC will configure the appropriate methods of travel- bus, tram, metro and walking. In order to take part in Rome's transport system, you must purchase a time integrated ticket (BIT) - 1 euro 50 gets a 100 minutes of travel, 6 euro for "daily" 24 hour ticket and long term visitors may look into monthly and yearly passes.
Well known to Italy are its transit scioperi, public transportation strikes which can reduce any city to a crawl. These strikes are publicized well in advance (check ATAC, newspapers and websites), and though they can be frustrating, don't be daunted. When a strike shuts down transport, Rome is left wide open to pedestrians and bicycles.