I spent some time in Italy recently, around Sorrento and the Amalfi coast area.
For the most part I walked around, but when I wanted to go further afield I used the bus. This article is about the public buses and only refers to the region I was in, I am not sure if it is different elsewhere, though I doubt it.
Tickets for buses can be bought at various shops, including newsagents, tobacconists and some other little stores. You will normally see a sign outside for SITA or EVA bus tickets. Which bus you need depends on the route you are taking.
You can buy single tickets, 24 hour tickets, 3 day tickets, weekly and monthly. When you have your ticket you must validate it when you board the bus. All buses have machines in them and you stick your ticket in the machine, wait for it to do its thing and then take it out – and keep it. This validation process stamps the ticket with the date and time and thereby activates the card. You must keep the card in case a ticket inspector comes along.
Now, I saw plenty of people get on the bus and not validate their tickets but perhaps they had 24 hour or longer tickets, because you only need to validate the ticket the FIRST time you use it. Of course this system is open to some abuse as people may get on without validating their ticket and then use it again, but this is risky because if you got caught doing this you can be fined on the spot.
I like this ticket system. It’s also how the train tickets work – validate the ticket at first use – some stations have validation machines on the platform, or do it on the train.
What I don’t like is the complete lack of queue system (yes I am English and I like to queue. Actually I don’t like to queue but I like organization). Getting the bus from Sorrento to Amalfi was fine because it was early morning and Sorrento was the first stop. However, leaving Amalfi to go to Ravello was a different story. For a start I couldn’t find the bus stop (seems to be a theme running here) so I recommend if you are going to Amalfi and need to get a bus later, find out where it goes from before you start your trip.
Secondly there were no barriers or any indication of where exactly the bus would arrive so people just hung around in a big mass, which just got bigger and bigger as time went on. If you thought you were near the front of the mass this didn’t last because as more people arrived they just stood in front of you.
When the bus eventually arrived, everyone barged their way onto the bus. Any manners went straight out the window. Men twice my size who had arrived well after me were suddenly pushing in front to get on first. Families were being separated. I couldn’t move at one point as people were all around me pushing and shoving. It was ridiculous! I couldn’t believe how rude some people were (but then maybe I am too polite, it’s an English thing).
Once on the bus, there were no seats, but the driver allowed more and more people on. Some people were sitting on laps and everyone standing was forced further up the bus until we were all crammed in like sardines. This continued despite people shouting that there was no more room until the doors could barely close.
Now you’ve got people packed together in a moving vehicle, people around the driver, people right up against the doors. Pretty sure that is a safety hazard right there. This happened on several occasions along the Amalfi coast and also in Ischia.
I don’t know why they let so many people on. If the demand is so big then either set up a queuing system and only let the correct number of people on, or lay on more buses. It is not difficult. And this was in October so not even high season!
Apart from this, the bus system was great! Just be aware that you may have to be prepared to push and shove to get on, or try and get the bus at the beginning or end of the day.
This is the end of my Italian bus system rant.