Wheelchair accessible transportation in Rome, Italy consists of a robust city bus network, an underground metro with limited accessibility, intercity trains, an express rail link to the airport and a tram system with little coverage and limited accessibility. Using these transportation services, I have managed to travel in and around the City of Rome as a power wheelchair user — this guide will show you how to do the same.
Wheelchair Accessible City Bus in Rome
Rome’s city buses are operated by Atac S.p.A., Italy’s largest public transport company and one of the largest in Europe. Atac states that “98% of our bus fleet is equipped with boarding platforms and a wheelchair area to ease travelling for persons with mobility impairments.” My experience in Rome confirms this, as I never saw a city bus without a wheelchair ramp.
Accessible city buses are labeled with a wheelchair icon on the front of the bus, with a manual wheelchair ramp located at the rear (or middle) door. Be sure to flag down the bus driver, as he/she will need to deploy the ramp.
Each bus has at least one dedicated wheelchair space, as well as a number of other accessibility features. Atac states that “all the new buses are equipped with next-stop announcement and on-vehicle infotainment systems to make journeys easier and safer also for passengers with visual impairment.”
The city is also making investments in its bus stops, focusing on the addition of ramps and tactile paving. One major accessibility challenge that remains are the many parked cars that block bus stops, preventing buses from pulling up alongside the sidewalk. As such, drivers often have to deploy the wheelchair ramp onto the street, making them much steeper and requiring disabled riders to move from the sidewalk onto the street for boarding. Apart from widespread and aggressive parking enforcement, there is no clear solution.
Planning an accessible journey on the Rome city bus is possible by visiting the Atac website, or through the use of Google Maps.
Wheelchair Accessibility on the Rome Metro
The Rome Metro is an underground subway system consisting of 3 lines lettered A, B, and C, which together serve 73 stations. Lines A and B offer limited accessibility, whereas Line C opened in 2014 and is wheelchair accessible throughout.
While the city advertises some stations on Line A and all stations on Line B as being “accessible,” wheelchair access is provided by stair lifts in many of those stations, with pre-booking of staff assistance required for those traveling on Line A. A list of the Line A and B stations identified as being accessible is provided below:
- Line A — Anagnina, Arco di Travertino, Baldo degli Ubaldi, Battistini, Cinecittà, Cipro, Colli Albani, Cornelia, Flaminio (Piazza del Popolo), Furio Camillo, Giulio Agricola, Lepanto, Lucio Sestio, Manzoni (Museo della Liberazione), Numidio Quadrato, Ottaviano (St. Peter’s/Vatican Museums), Ponte Lungo, Porta Furba (Quadraro), Re di Roma, Subaugusta, Termini, Valle Aurelia
- Line B — Basilica S. Paolo, Bologna, Castro Pretorio, Cavour, Circo Massimo, Colosseo, Conca d’Oro, EUR Fermi, EUR Magliana, EUR Palasport, Garbatella, Jonio, Laurentina, Libia, Marconi, Monti Tiburtini, Pietralata, Piramide, Policlinico, Ponte Mammolo, Quintiliani, Rebibbia, Sant’Agnese (Annibaliano), Santa Maria del Soccorso, Termini, Tiburtina
Stair lifts are prone to malfunction, evidenced by the long list of lifts that are currently undergoing repairs on the Rome Metro. Due to strict weight limits and a small platform size, the lifts may be unable to carry the largest power wheelchairs.
Although I embarked on journeys where using the metro would have been more convenient and faster for a nondisabled traveler, it was not so easy a choice for me as a wheelchair user. I believed the risk and hassle associated with its unreliable accessibility infrastructure made it preferable to use the city bus.
Wheelchair Accessible Leonardo Express Airport Train
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is connected to central Rome via the wheelchair accessible Leonardo Express train. The 32-minute journey operated by Trenitalia is the easiest way from the airport to Roma Termini Station and vice versa. Each express train has dedicated wheelchair spaces, an accessible toilet, a luggage rack and power outlets.
The airport train station is located steps away from the Terminal 3 arrivals hall. Signs guide travelers to the train station at FCO Airport. Tickets can be purchased for just €14 EUR each way from electronic kiosks inside the train station. Upon reaching the platform, wheelchair users should seek out the train’s conductor, who is responsible for deploying a portable ramp that bridges the gap between the station platform and rail car.
For more information on riding the Leonardo Express, visit the Trenitalia website.
Tickets and fares for Rome public transportation
The easiest way to pay city bus and metro fares in Rome is with a contactless credit or debit card. The city calls this feature Tap & Go and, since January 2023, all surface vehicles have been outfitted with a card validator.
Alternatively, physical tickets and passes can be purchased at Rome Termini Station and at other metro stations. The following options are available:
- Single ride “BIT” ticket — € 1.50 EUR
- 10-ride “10-BIT” ticket — € 15.00 EUR
- Roma 24 hour ticket — € 7.00 EUR
- Roma 48 hour ticket — € 12.50 EUR
- Roma 72 hour ticket — € 18.00 EUR
- Weekly “CIS” ticket — € 24.00 EUR
- Monthly Roma pass — € 35.00 EUR
Note that the city also cells the “Roma Pass” for tourists, which includes unlimited use of public transport and admission to various attractions and archaeological sites. Because people with disabilities receive free admission to most attractions, including the Colosseum, purchasing the Roma Pass is generally unnecessary.