Rome is a challenge. Whereas other European cities have fully functioning metro (subway) systems, we have two measly lines that intersect only once at Termini Station. Our situation is made fortunate since the residence and the school are both on the A line, and are only a few stops apart. Unfortunately, the A line closes at 9:30 every night except for Saturday. A third line is in perpetual construction, but progress is continually halted because of the discovery of ruins. One great thing about the Rome transportation system is that one ride is one euro, and the monthly pass is only 30 euros and gives you access to the metro, buses, and trams. I get my 30 euros worth times over during the course of a month.
It does make sense to me that Rome would have as precarious a transportation system as is present. Rome has been in constant motion, and people have lived here for ages. Where other cities have had time to grow, expand, and plan around new technologies, Rome has always been inhabited. I find it so interesting to see modern apartment buildings built into the ancient Aurelian Wall. When everything is old, some things have to change with the times, and such is true in Rome. A consequence to this charm, however, is the transportation system.
I prefer the metro, but in Rome, you have to learn to like the bus and tram. There are so many lines, and the system is easy to use once you figure out the relevant routes. For instance while there is no metro line from our residence to the hip area of Trastevere, there is a convenient bus that will take you right there. After midnight, the normal buses stop running and you have to catch a night bus. Although these sometimes work, when going out, it’s normal to end the night with a cab. Split between several people, this usually costs a few euros a person.
This system, albeit not ideal, is more than tolerable. Then, you experience the sciopero, and you begin to change your mind. A sciopero, or strike, is more than a usual occurrence. It’s probably happened once a month during this semester. Sometimes they’re announced and sometimes they’re more spontaneous. They might include a strike of just buses, just metros, just trains, or maybe all three. They could last a whole day, or you might luck out and be able to use public transport for some hours of the day. And strangely, whenever there is a strike, you can see a few buses picking up their routes.
Getting around here can be frustrating, but this is part of life in Rome. Whereas my friends in London and Barcelona have a much easier system, I have a certain sense of pride in adopting and overcoming such a challenging system.