I love my bus pass

One of my favourite things about Rome is my bus pass. The 35 Euro a month travel card (that’s right London friends 35 EUROS to go ANYWHERE in Rome) covers all buses, all trams, all metro lines and all trains, including the 20km train ride to the sea which I take to work every day. Read it and weep. The coloured line at the bottom changes every month too, this month a very pretty sky blue. I like to collect them and use them as book marks, if only to see the months pass by. I’ve had 4 April cards so far.

   But, and it’s a very big but, there are only two metro lines. The third line has been under construction since 2007 and will be ready … well, let’s just say it’s not ready yet. The “one every ten minutes” bus service doesn’t exist, hours can be wasted waiting for a bus and when they do arrive they are old, dirty, over-crowded, covered in graffiti and often smell of wee. 

   Margaret Thatcher is often attributed as saying, Any man who finds himself on a bus over the age of 30 can consider himself a failure in life.” Whether this famous quote was really said by Thatcher, I think the Italians must have been listening as the majority of us bus travellers are immigrants, women and old. Or mad. Any person who does finds themselves on a bus in Rome is liable to encounter at some point a person who is threatening to kill them, the driver or the world in general, or is scared that the world is out to kill them. It’s difficult to tell sometimes. Listening to such outbursts in a foreign language seems to make them even more disconcerting. Just for once I would like to get on a bus without someone shouting, “You’re all fucking idiots!” followed by “Fucking pieces of shit!” over and over. Is it me? Do I bring it on myself? Maybe Thatcher was right. But 35 Euros! And avoiding the nightmare that is driving and surviving in Rome. Public transport, still the best deal in town.


  1. I am so going to be a failure in Thatcher's opinion 😉 Let's instead quote the mayor of Bogota who said that “a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation.”


  2. Its good on buses in Bradford-you often see someone you know and have a chat-but some people avoid them. A former boss of mine in social services insisted on bus travel being part of a social work students' education.Certainly it was worth going on the school buses because then you saw why your clients wanted to get home quick for fear of catching one with all the attendant bedlam.
    Anyway enough of Thatcher quotes- it's non stop Thatcherism on the tele and radio today and no-one has said anything sensible yet apart maybe from Gerry Adams.


  3. That's what I'm saying, Rome could do with a few social workers traveling on its buses once in a while! Bring back the bus conductor that's what I say. Another privatisation/money saving cut that has instead caused many more expensive problems on our public transport.


  4. (Wikipedia Brian Howard entry): Howard is credited with coining the phrase “Anybody seen in a bus over the age of 30 has been a failure in life”, wrongly attributed to Margaret Thatcher. According to Daily Telegraph correspondent and historian, Hugo Vickers, (writing in November 2006) the author was Brian Howard. The phrase came into wider use when used by Loelia, Duchess of Westminster, in her memoir, Grace and Favour (1961).


  5. I did know that there was some dispute about who was the author of this widely known phrase. However, liked many famous quotes it has become part of the political landscape, it is referred to in Hansard, and was also reputedly said to the owner of a bus company while she was presenting an award. So the debate about its authenticity will go on. I've amended the sentence referring to the doubts.


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