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Transportation in Barcelona


Barcelona Busses

Barcelona has 109 bus lines and a fleet of about 1,200 busses that provide public transport links throughout the city and metropolitan area. Service is provided by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB). Each line has its own hours, which can be consulted at TMB's website, but service tends to begin at around 6:30 and stops at around 23:00. During the nighttime and early-morning the city is served by a network of night busses, called nitbusos, with their own special routes. All nitbus routes converge in Plaça de Catalunya and any of them can be taken from there to practically any part of the rest of the city. Unlike Madrid's night busses, however, nitbus routes do not terminate in the central plaza but rather run through it in both directions, so be sure to take the bus going in the direction you want. All busses and trains in Barcelona are integrated into a single-fare scheme, called sistema tarifari integrat or tarifa única. It costs the same to take the bus, metro, tramway or FGC or Rodalies trains within any given zone and you can also change from one mode of transport to another for free. Tickets can be purchased in busses or from automatic ticket machines at metro stops.


Barcelona Tramway

Construction started on the Barcelona Metro in 1920, at around the same time as the Madrid Metro, and its first line was today's line 3 which joined Plaça de Catalunya with Lesseps. Today the network has 150 stops and 9 lines and is operated jointly by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC). The TMB runs lines 1 to 5 and line 11 while the FGC runs lines 6 to 8. A line 10 is presently under construction. The Barcelona Metro is part of the sistema tarifari integrat (integrated fare system) and 10-trip, 1-day, 30-day and 90-day metro passes can be used on busses, FGC lines, tramways and Rodalies lines, so long as you stay within the zone covered by the ticket you bought. You may also change from one mode of transport to another for free.

There are many different metro passes and it can seem a bit bewildering at first to the foreign visitor, but the system is actually quite simple and elegant once explained. The metro passes integrated into the single-fare system each have scaled prices according to the outermost zone to which they permit travel. The farther out you go, the more expensive. The single-fare system metro passes include the T-10 which gives you ten trips and expires at the end of the year, the T-Dia pass which gives you unlimited trips and expires at the end of the day, the T-Mes which gives you unlimited trips and expires in 30 days, the T-50/30 which gives you 50 trips and expires in 30 days, the T-Familiar which gives you 70 trips and expires in 30 days (aimed at families), the T-Trimestre which gives you unlimited trips and expires in 90 days and the T-Jove which is the same as the T-Trimestre but at a reduced price for young people under the age of 21 or students under the age of 25. Other non-single-fare-system passes are also available, though they are only valid for the Metro. For more information consult the TMB web page on Barcelona Metro fares.

A note of caution: if you travel across multiple zones you will have to swipe your ticket a second time to exit the station, as ticket checking is automated on short-distance trains, so be sure to keep your ticket with you until you leave even if it's just a simple one-way ticket.

FGC Barcelona

Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) is an operator owned by the regional government and runs many disparate lines throughout Catalonia. In Barcelona it runs what are known as the FGC lines which are effectively part of the underground metro rail system and whose fares are integrated into the city's transportation network. Metro passes are fully useable on Barcelona's FGC lines and changing from FGC to city busses, Metro, Rodalies trains or tramways is free. Changing from TMB Metro lines to FGC Metro lines, however, does involve leaving one station and entering another and you will have to swipe your card again (though in general there are now underground passageways between nearby stations to make fast connections).

FGC also runs the Montserrat Rack Railway (cremallera de Montserrat), Vall de Núria Rack Railway (cremallera de Núria) and the two funicular railways in Montserrat, Sant Joan and Santa Cova.


Barcelona Railways

Rodalies is run by RENFE, the national train operator, and is the Catalan name for what in Spanish is known as Cercanías. Rodalies lines run all across Catalonia. The stretches that go through Barcelona's single-fare zones are integrated into the single-fare system and you can use normal metro passes to access them. There are relatively few stations in the city proper, which allows fast travel across the city. You can also use Rodalies to get from Barcelona to neighbouring beach towns. Fares depend on distance travelled and tickets can be acquired at ticket windows or automatic ticket machines. Integrated-fare metro passes are also valid for using Rodalies so long as you stay within the zone(s) covered by your ticket. For more information on this, read our section on the Barcelona Metro. There are no conductors, instead you will swipe your ticket a second time to exit the station so be sure to keep it with you until you leave.

Barcelona Sants is the main rail hub of Barcelona, with service to the rest of Spain. From here, you can go pretty much anywhere in Spain and beyond. Some nearby destinations that may interest you include Sitges, Tarragona or Mataró. International trains, as well as most regional rail lines with service to the rest of Catalonia, depart from the Estació de França. High speed Spanish rail, called the AVE (alta velocidad española), links Barcelona to Lleida (in 1:15), Saragossa (in 1:30) and Madrid (in just 2:38). AVE trains depart from Barcelona Sants at the moment, though a new macrostation at Sagrera is under construction.

Barcelona Taxi

Taxis in Barcelona are yellow and black and there are about 10,500 registered. They provide service across the metropolitan area and are active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Fares are charged per kilometre, not per person, and the minimum is 2.00€. Supplementary fares, or extra fees, are also charged per piece of luggage stored in the boot and trips to and from the airport, cruise ship terminal and Fira exhibition centre. Taxi fares also vary depending on time of day and are higher during holidays. Fares are displayed on the taxi meter. At the end of the trip the driver will press a button which will automatically add the applicable supplementary charges and cause the total fare to be displayed. You should never pay more than the fare displayed on the meter, unless, of course, you choose to tip. Note that tipping taxi drivers is not customary in Spain, although tips are accepted. If you do decide to tip your driver for exceptional service, stay within about 5% to 10% of the total fare. If you have a specific route in mind you can request the driver follow it. You can also request the volume of the radio be adjusted or that air conditioning be switched on in the Summer.

Barcelona Cityscape

Bicycling is an excellent way to get around Barcelona where streets are spacious and bicycle paths are abundant. Recently the city government has introduced public bicycles to the city, but they are only available to city residents. Tourists and short-term residents generally hire a bike from one of the many private bike-hire companies in the city. It allows you to see another side of the city and it goes without saying that it is much better for the environment than some other methods of transport.

L'aeroport del Prat

The Barcelona Airport, known as the aeroport del Prat, is just 10 kilometres from the city centre. It is named after the Prat de Llobregat, where it is located. Prat is Catalan for "field". It was opened in 1918 as a replacement for El Remolar, an older and smaller airfield that could no longer be enlarged to keep up with the need for ever greater capacity. It is Spain's second busiest and second largest airport and provides service to over 30,000,000 passengers per year. The airport has two terminals, the recently inaugurated T1 and T2 (which unifies the old terminals A, B and C). The pont aeri ("air bridge" in Catalan), the name given to the Barcelona-Madrid route, is the world's busiest air route.

The airport is connected to the city centre by Rodalies and trains leave about every half hour. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the city centre by train. Busses are your other public transport option for getting to the city from the airport and vice versa. A new Metro line is currently under construction that will link all the airport terminals with each other and to the city centre.

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