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Thread: Roma, Italia

  1. #1

    Roma, Italia

    I just spent some time in Rome and noticed some really interesting things from an urban transit perspective. I have a few pics that I snapped, but I won't post them now. I'm on dial-up at the moment...

    Transit: Rome has subways, buses, trams, and light rail. Mopeds, scooters, and vespas are very common. The distances are walkable, but I can't say it is very pedestrian friendly: there are 2 million cars driving insanely around the city without regard to speed limits, lanes, signs, or crosswalks. Sidewalks are in many areas are non-existent, so walking happens in the lanes of traffic. Parking is a nightmare, so the sidewalk is often clogged with cars and motorcycles parked there. The public transit system brings you efficiently to most places, although it has its problems. There are regular strikes, it is overcrowded, and full of pick-pockets in many areas. Ticketing is clever: you buy a ticket that is good for 75 minutes, a week, or a month after you validate it by punching it with the time you first use it. You only need to have a validated ticket with you on your person: you do not need to display it, check it, or anything else! It makes hopping on the bus a lot easier than I'm used to. The same ticket is also good on all forms of transit in the city.

    Gas Stations: Someone once asked a question about pedestrian friendly gas stations. In central Rome, there are a lot of gas stations that are nothing more than a gas pump plunked down on the sidewalk. Cars pull to the side of the road, fill up, and drive away. Just like a newstand.

    Mixed Use Housing: In central Rome, virtually everything is mixed use. Stores on the street, houses and offices above. Most of the homes are accessed by gated private courtyards/gardens off the street.

    Street Environment: Most of the apartments are accessed from the private gardens as I mentioned, so people don't really take ownership with the street. Stores face the street, but they are all closed two hours for lunch and after 6 or 7. When they close, they put down metal doors making a completely faceless wall. It's nice and vibrant during the day, but looks distrubingly desolate and unwelcoming once you hit dinner time.

    Sprawl: The cities in Italy are sprawling into the country side. Rome is losing population.
    Last edited by brandonmason; 24 Jan 2004 at 6:20 AM. Reason: Adding more...

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Good writeup.

    That method of fare payment is called "POP" or Proof of Payment, as opposed to POE or "Pay on Entry" as most central city systems have. It is used outside of Rome, and I know it's used on both the San Francisco MUNI and the Los Angeles subway.

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I spent half a summer in the Florence area a couple years ago, and I agree the public transportation, especially buses, which I used most often, was much more efficient in terms of getting people on the bus and moving. The POP system, as jordanb mentions, works much better for getting people on the bus faster. Granted, it's an honor system, but it moves faster.

    Here in Chicago, since people have to pay as they enter it tends to go slower. Especially if you're on a full bus and people insist on exiting through the front door. That pisses me off, so much.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    It's not exactly the honor system, because agents roam the system checking people's tickets. There's some huge fine involved if you don't have one. Some people do skip out on the fare, but it's not that significant.

    On the San Francicso MUNI, the ticket dispensers are all on the busses, so you have to get on the bus anyway to get a ticket, but people mostly tend to buy the montly passes. On the CTA, that isn't the case, so there wouldn't be as much of an advantage, unless they put ticket machines in the bus stops like London is doing.

    Really though, the best way to speed up busses is to discourage the cash fare. If everyone used transit cards, the system would work significantly faster because people using transit cards (by my estimate) take about 1/4th as much time as someone using cash. It's even faster with smart cards.

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Your right, isn't exactly a honor's system. I remember the fine was something on the order of 50,000 lira (I was there in 1999, pre-Euro), or about 25 dollars due on the spot.

    EDIT: Also, I really liked Rome. Yes, it is big and grungy with crazy drivers zooming all over the place, but you can easily walk across the entire old city. There are the layers of 2,000 years of history present and visually evident in every corner and nook and street throughout the old city.

    Don't forget EUR though. The suburb built by the Fascists in the 1930. Very cool!
    Last edited by mendelman; 26 Jan 2004 at 2:09 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6

    Pictures

    I uploaded a few pictures...

    Cyburbia Gallery

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