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Tickets for Buses and Metro
The buses and the metro use the same tickets so you can transfer from one to the other. There is no concept of a transfer ticket; you can change from one bus to another and take one trip on the metro for as long as the ticket is valid.
You can purchase tickets ahead of time, they are only considered "in use" when they are validated on the bus or metro.
Keep your ticket with you for the whole bus ride. You may be asked to show it to prove you have a validated ticket. On the metro you should keep your ticket until you are out of the station. Current fines for those traveling without a ticket are a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 500 euro.
Where to Purchase Bus/Metro Tickets in Rome
Tickets may be purchased at tobacconists, the SMA supermarket chain, from vending machines at the train station and in the metro stations. You can sometimes find the old type tickets at newsstands.
On the ATAC web site (www.atac.roma.it), you can get a list of places where you can buy tickets. Click on Fares and Tickets and then Sales Points. You can type in an address and it will show you the nearest locations where you can purchase tickets. It lists the addresses and also shows them on a map.
It can be difficult to find tickets at night or on Sundays. You'll have to plan ahead to avoid being caught without a ticket. Buy your tickets ahead of time. They are not considered used until they are validated, so you can keep a supply of them.
Fares and Types of Tickets
There are several types of bus tickets available:
Children under the age of 10 ride free.
In 2001, new tickets and new machines to stamp them were introduced. To this day you can still find the old tickets and the old machines. They are different sizes so you can't put the old ones in the new machines and you have to fold the new ones to fit in the old machines. It sounds complicated, but it's not.
Fortunately, the old tickets are becoming ever more rare. You will usually find them at newsstands. The new tickets require a machine on premise to print them and newsstands don't generally have the machines.
The new tickets are printed with a date of issue (Emiss.). Once you stamp it you'll see the date and time is expires (Scad.). The ticket pictured here was issued on June 18 and it expired on June 22 at 9:36pm (21:36).
Sometimes, on the back of the ticket you will find discounts. The ticket pictured here is offering a 2 for 1 discount at the Hydromania water park.
Validating Your Ticket
Tickets are valid for a specific period of time. Your ticket must be stamped with the current date and time when you start your journey, so that anyone looking at the ticket can see if it is valid. You do not show your ticket to the driver or a conductor when you get on a bus or a metro train, but at any time an official may ask to see your ticket. Current fines for those traveling without a validated ticket are a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 500 euro.
New Yellow Machines
The new machines are bright yellow and have all sorts of buttons on the front that you can ignore. There are usually 3 of the new machines on each bus; one in the front, one in the middle and one at the back. They have fancy magnetic readers and beep if your ticket is invalid.
The new tickets should be placed in the machine with the arrow facing you and pointing down. (***Steph: Can this possibly be correct. You don't put the ticket in with the arrow up and pointing to the slot?) The ticket will be sucked into the machine; it will grind a bit and then spit the ticket back out. A green light indicates that the ticket is valid. It will sometimes happen that the red light comes on, indicating that the ticket is not valid, even though it is. This has happened to me with brand new tickets. If you are sure it is a good ticket, try one of the other machines on the bus.
Old Orange Machines
You'll find the old machines, if there are any, at the back of the bus and sometimes at the front. They are orange and rectangular. There is usually just one on the bus. These are similar to the machines you find in train stations.
The old tickets should be inserted with the colored side up; either end is fine. The machine will print the date and time. Sometimes it takes a bit to get it to stamp.
Most of the time, when you buy tickets they will be the new ones. If you have the old tickets and the bus doesn't have the old machines, you'll have to write the date and time on the ticket (see below). If you have a new ticket and there are only old machines on the bus, you'll have to fold it lengthwise so it will fit in the old machines.
Can't Stamp the Ticket? Write the Date and Time on it
Sometimes the machines don't work. I've been on the super long express buses with many machines and found all of them to be out of order. Or sometimes you get on at the back, that machine doesn't work and the bus is too crowded to make it to the front. In this case, you can either ask people to pass your ticket up to be stamped, and I've never seen a ticket disappear doing this, or you need to take out a pen and write the date (dd-mm-yyyy), the time of day (better to use the 24 hour clock) and the bus number on it.
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