1. How to buy a bus ticket
In Florence you can buy tickets at newspaper stands and most tabacchi (tobacco shops) and cafes where there is ATAF sign. There are many different types of tickets you can buy, 1 ride good for 70 minutes (un biglietto), 4 ride good for 4 rides for 70 minutes (un multi-plu), 10, 60 minute rides (Carta Agile, Dieci Euro), 20, 60 minute rides (Carta Agile, Venti Euro). You can venture on and off any bus in the city in the alloted 60 or 70 minutes without stamping another. When you validate the ticket upon entering the bus, it will print the day and time on the ticket.
2. How to validate your bus ticket
Once you step onto the bus, you must validate your ticket. You will find an orange box in the front and back of the bus. If you purchased the Carta Agile you don’t need to stamp this particular card. Right above where you validate the normal tickets, it says Agile, and all you do it wave the card in front of that. It will beep, and then show you how many rides you have left. Cool huh? If you are traveling with a large family or a group of friends I suggest investing in the Carta Agile.
Note: Sometimes the Agile part won’t beep. If the Bus police board your bus at that time, explain to them, you tried but it didn’t work. I have seen this happen, they know that the system sometimes isn’t up to par.
3. When the bus is crowded
If you are sitting when the bus is crowded and you notice an elderly person, a woman with child or children, or a disabled person, it is customary to give them your seat if they chose to take it. Some people don’t but I always try to be courteous to these people. You are a guest in their country.
When the bus is extra, extra crowded, think if you really need to take the bus. Look at your map and see how to get to your destination in a scenic fashion. Personally, I would rather walk than get on a crowded bus. This is a smorgasbord for pickpockets who meander on these crowded buses. When you are pinned in a position that you can’t reach your purse or wallet, stay alert. Also you can risk getting injured also when pinned or stuck in a corner. People really can’t move in these situations or won’t for that matter. You must push through in order to get off these buses, be aggressive and courteous, saying ‘Scusi‘ or ‘Mi Scusi, Io scendo‘(Excuse me, I am getting off) as you get closer to the uscita (exit). Keep in mind the entrata (entrances) on the bus is the front and back door. The middle door is the uscita (exit) and where you disembark the bus. Make sure you stand (or make you way) by the exit in order to arrive at your stop.
4. Florence bus police
Let me inform you of the bus police of Florence. Usually they come onto a bus in twos, dressed in street clothes. You can point them out when they look among the crowd of people suspiciously. Then all of a sudden they pull out their badge and exclaim “Biglietti!” You must present your ticket to them at this time. If you never stamped it or don’t have a ticket they will issue you a fine and ticket for not having a ticket. When I was caught I had to give them my passport to record my name and I had to then go down to the Bus Depot and pay the 50 Euro ticket. UGH! These men can be nice or they can be difficult, be cooperative and take your fine without complaining. I suggest always stamping your ticket when you get on a bus in Florence. Travel safe!