Rome cracks down on tourist buses in historic centre

A plan is underway to free Rome from traffic jams and smog - and tourist buses will be the first casualty.

Rome cracks down on tourist buses in historic centre
File photo of a tourist bus in Rome: Chris Sampson/Flickr

Rome councillor for transport, Linda Meleo, announced on Monday that the historic centre of the capital will become off-limits to tourist buses.

The new plan will see buses and coaches charged higher fees to enter the city, and they won't be allowed in the city centre at all. Meleo added that local authorities would also ramp up checks on transport and sanctions of those found to be breaking the rules.

While many Romans will welcome an effort to tackle the city's traffic-clogged streets, the operators of the tourist bus routes are less pleased with the news.

A joint note from several companies running bus services for tourists said the decision “could prove disastrous”, according to Trasporti Italia.

They argued that Rome's public transport service is too limited and confusing to be a viable option for visitors.

Meleo acknowledged the protests but said the move should not be seen as “an attack on tourist organizations, which contribute an important service, but a way to regulate the industry”.

She argued that Romans wanted their city's centre to be protected and that the changes would improve “liveability” in Italy's capital.

Under the proposals, the city will be divided into three zones, instead of the current two. Buses operating in the 'A' zone, outside the railway ring, will be subject to a standard €50 fee for a day pass, a slight increase from the current price of €42.

Daily permits to drive in the 'B' zone will cost buses and coaches between €600-780, depending on their level of pollution – a huge increase of the current fee, which is around €150. Electric buses are the only ones to escape the price hike, and will get entry to the zone half-price. Tour buses found to violate the new rules will face hefty fines.

The third, 'C' zone comprises the city's historic centre and will be off-limits to all buses, except those school buses and those needed by the disabled.

Rome's local council is set to approve the proposals in December and they will come into force on January 1st 2018, though they may be subject to moderations over the next year.

The transport overhaul will also include new parking areas, located in Tiburtina, Tor di Valle, Montagnola and Centocelle, aimed at encouraging use of public transport. A surveillance system will also be introduced allowing authorities to better regulate who comes in and out of the city.


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