If you are considering, preparing or have already moved to Rome, there is one important aspect of life in the capital that you should bear in mind and never underestimate – inconveniences caused by transportation strikes. While Italy is known throughout history for its problems with workers’ unions, the issues that Italian capital is facing with the public transportation company Atac Spa is a little more serious than in any other Italian city.
The way the Italian and Roman public transportation companies go on strike is probably different than what you are used to. They schedule the strikes, which is a good way for commuters to prepare for plan B. Strikes are usually scheduled for Fridays, or possibly Mondays, and take place on average at least once a month. Unfortunately, there are months when they are scheduled as often as 3-4 times a month. Another reason why strikes in Rome are different than elsewhere, is that the transportation companies are hardly ever 100% on strike. What does this mean? As Atac employees (or any other company employees) belong to different unions, they strike when the union they belong to decides to go on strike. For commuters this is a positive thing because by law and because of different unions, there is always some service guaranteed. Each strike, as previously mentioned, is scheduled and has a clear timetable that states when the service is guaranteed and when there will be no service. For example, services can be guaranteed before 8:30am and between 5pm and 8pm, though waiting times are usually longer.
How to survive a transportation strike in Rome?
Here are some tips how you can make your life easier in Rome, considering that even when not on strike, Rome’s public transportation is not the most efficient one.
- Keep an eye on what is going on in Rome – wheatear you speak Italian or not, there are plenty of sources that can keep you posted in English (wantedinrome.com; Facebook pages such as “Expats living in Rome” just to name a few).
- If you understand some Italian (or are willing to use Google translate) Atac webpage will keep you informed about the strikes.
- To be on the safe side, it is always good to have an alternative mean of transportation in mind, especially on those days when you have an important meeting, train or airplane to catch, exam or job interview. Consider a push bike or motor bike. Taxis tend to get too busy on the days when there is a strike and waiting times can go up to 40 minutes.
- Worry free method is to rent an apartment near your job, university, or whatever you want to be near to. This way when Atac is on strike 20-30 minutes (depending on your abilities) walking distance is not a bad alternative to crowded tram/buses you have waited for over 30 minutes at least.
Words to look out for
- include not only “sciopero” (strike), but also “manifestazione” and “dimostrazione” (demonstration), which also often affect transport. Also be alert for “fuori servizio” and “deposito” meaning out of service. “Sospeso” or “sospesa,” meaning “suspended” (as in “linea sospesa,” suspended line) may appear.