IMPORTANT NOTICE: On October 31, 2021, Florence’s bus service changed name from ATAF to Autolinee Toscane, a new company that is in charge of bus service throughout all of Tuscany and its major cities for both urban and rural transport. From November 1, 2021 all times and services will remain unchanged. Bus tickets may be purchased digitally by sending a text message with “Firenze” as text to 488.01.05 or by using the Tabnet APP which you can get from the App Store or Google Play. Travelers can still purchase tickets from official ticket offices, machines and authorized retailers that display the new Autolinee Toscane sticker. Existing tickets will no longer be valid after October 31, you can request refunds at Desks 8 and 9 at the Santa Maria Novella bus station ticket office. Seasonal ticket holders will now be required to have their Italian health card (tessera sanitaria) with them while travelling.
The major news is that tickets you buy to use in Florence are also valid in Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, and all of the main cities in each province. Smaller towns have their own bus tickets that cost a little less (€1,20). Keep reading for more info on using the bus in Florence!
COVID times: As you can imagine, riding city buses during a pandemic requires changes. The following article continues to outline general policies for using the city public transport system, including the tram, during pre-pandemic times. Currently, because of space limitations on the buses and trams (80% of capacity), there are certain prescriptions you need to follow: do not sit on seats marked "off-limits" to maintain social distancing, wear mask at all times, buy tickets ahead of time as you are not allowed to go near the driver, getting on and off the bus from the back or central door (the one closest to the driver will not open). If you have any experiences or comments to add, post at the bottom of this article.
Public transportation in Florence is widely used. City buses (orange buses, with newer models either a deep purple and white color or blue) are now run by Autolinee Toscane. Ordinary (a single use 90 minute ticket) and multiple-ride tickets (four 90 minute rides on one single ticket) can be purchased from authorized sales points (coffee shops, called "bar" here, tobacconists, newsagents: anyone with the new "Autolinee Toscane" stickers on their shop windows) and from the bus ticket booth within the SMN train station.
Let me say this again: Buy your tickets BEFORE you board the bus, as the bus driver does NOT check tickets and let's everyone on without asking for a ticket. While the bus driver should have tickets to sell onboard, they often don't want to bother and will tell you they don't have any! In any case, tickets bought on the bus cost more - and since they often run out of tickets, there is no guarantee you can get tickets on the bus with the danger that you will be on the bus without a ticket and thus can be fined for riding without a ticket!
The "tramvia" or tram
In 2010, Florence got its first tram line, the T1, that runs from Scandicci to SMN train station and since then, the line has been extended to reach the Careggi teaching hospital in the north-western part of the city. The T2 line to the Florence airport opened in February 2019 and goes from the SMN train station to the airport, making it the easiest and cheapest way to travel from the airport to the center of Florence. Extensions of the tram service are planned over the next 5 years to reach Piazza della Libertà as well as Bagno a Ripoli.
The same tickets for Autolinee Toscane will continue to work on the tram. You can buy tickets for the tram at the ticket machines available at all tram stops -- buy your ticket before you get on, stamp your ticket when you get on and from that moment, your 90 minutes begin.
Trams for the T1 line starting from Careggi Hospital run from 4:44am and from Villa Costanza at 5:36am. They start from the De Andrè stop at 4:35am. Trams from Villa Costanza end at 12:12am everyday except for Friday and Saturday, when they run longer until 1:38am. In the opposite direction, from Careggi, the last tram is at 12:13am everyday, and until 1:41am on Fridays and Saturdays.
For the T2 line, trams start at 5am from the Unità stop (SMN area) and run until 12:29am (until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays). From the airport, the trams run from 5am until 12:02am weekdays, until 12:12am on Sundays and until 1:32am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tips on riding on city buses
There are three doors on the city buses, the front and back ones are for getting on and the middle one is for getting off. After you get on, make your way to the nearby "ticket validating" machine and put your bus ticket in. The date and time is then printed on the ticket, starting the time validity of your ticket. You basically have 90 minutes on your ticket, so you could get on and off onto different buses and you use the same ticket.
How to validate tickets on the bus
The validating machine can either be right by the door (in the newer buses) or right around the corner at the top of the aisle if you get on in the front of the bus or right to your right around the corner as you enter from the back of the bus. Most older buses have 3 doors, you can get in from the front one and back one, and the middle one is solely for getting OFF the bus.
The newer buses only have 2 doors, you have to get on at the front of the bus and use the second middle doors to get off. ** During Covid times, everyone gets on and OFF from the middle doors as the front ones are not opened **
The machines print/stamp date and time on the ticket and your ticket remains valid for the following 90 minutes from that time: you can get on and off buses while you still have time on that ticket. PLEASE CHECK THAT THE MACHINE PRINTS OUT THE TIME AND DATE! They can run out of ink and you hear the printing but see no date or time. If you don't check and tell the bus driver that the machine is not working, and then tickets are checked and yours has no date or time on it, YOU WILL GET FINED!! They won't believe you - even with all best intentions clearly marked on your face - and will ask you to pay on the spot.
It is your right to REFUSE TO PAY ON THE SPOT! The difficult thing is to prove that you actually validated your bus ticket if you did do so, so while you can contest the fine, you might end up having to pay it anyway further down in time. Many visitors write to us saying they bought tickets and validated them but the machine was not working, or they simply forgot. But rather than ruin your vacation with a fine, I hope that you read this info before you come to Florence and know of the risk: so always CHECK your ticket is validated! If the machine is out of ink, tell the bus driver and go to the second machine on the bus and get it validated there.
Buy tickets ahead of time. Avoid fines!
You should buy tickets before getting on the bus and really SHOULD validate the ticket: don't be tempted to not do it and "reuse" the ticket on another ride. Even if the system still works on an "honor" system, there are many who abuse the system to everyone's detriment. For this reason, there are many controllers continuously getting on buses and checking tickets. We've seen many tourists get a fine for not having a ticket or not having validated their ticket, often because they didn't realize how the system works. I am trying to explain that is easy to avoid you getting a fine: so buy ticket before you get on the bus, get on and stamp it right away, then ride the bus without worries!
Once controllers get on the bus, the driver will NOT sell you a ticket. Fines go up to 240 euro, but average is around 45-50 euro as far as I've heard of.
If you get on and need to ask the driver for information (for example, to ask if you are on the right bus), first go validate your ticket, then return to ask the driver! An "I didn't know" will not get you off the hook if you get caught without a stamped ticket. The fine is minimum 40 euros if you pay on the spot or within 5 days of getting the fine (payable at the bus office at the SMN train station), then it goes up. Don't risk a a heavy fine when the cost of the ticket is small. Buy several tickets beforehand and use them as you need them. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes and cost €1,50 each.
If you don't have a ticket and no means to get one beforehand, you can sometimes buy one directly from the driver for € 2,50 (no change is given so make sure to hand the exact amount). It's more expensive but worth buying rather than risk riding without a ticket. If he has run out tickets or says he doesn't have tickets, get OFF at the next stop! If you stay on the bus, it is as if you were riding without a ticket and can be subject to fines if you're asked to show your validated ticket and don't have one. So if the driver says he has no tickets, get off the bus and go get one before getting back on!
Another option is to buy one with your phone: you can get a ticket by sending a text message with the message "Firenze" to 4880105. The cost is € 1,80 for the ticket and you're supposed to send the message before getting on the bus, as you need to wait for the replying text message that confirms purchase and validity of the virtual ticket before getting on-board. But if you are on the bus, there are no tickets from the driver, and you have a phone, just send the text message and wait for the ticket to arrive. Otherwise, get off the bus at the next stop, try to get a ticket somewhere else or you'll be risking a fine if you're caught. NOTE that this system only works for Italian phones as only TIM, Vodafone and WindTre are carriers that allow the purchase of tickets with text messages.
THIS SERVICE IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF COVID: If you have a contactless debit or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, Maestro and V-Pay), you can get on the bus and use that to buy a ticket directly from the machine that normally validates tickets for €1,50, valid 90 minutes. All you need to do is put the card near the digital reader on the machine and it should say "ticket validated".
NEW 2021: The new Autolinee Toscane has an APP called TABNET. You can buy single tickets as well as 10 at a time, with credit card. This is likely the easiest method right now for buying tickets, as it doesn't require you to go looking for a place to buy them. This is only for riding the bus in towns - tickets for "extraurbani" trips (like from Florence to Lucca), still require you to go and buy tickets for the precise km you are traveling.
Firenze Card * currently suspended*
If you buy the Firenze Card to get into museums, you can add on for 5 euros the FirenzeCard+ option to include unlimited bus travel on Florence city buses for the 72 hours the Firenze Card is active. You need to get the special bus ticket when you buy the Firenze Card, since it will have the card number on it, and stamp this bus ticket the FIRST time you get on a bus. If you're asked for a ticket, you need to show this ticket along with your Firenze Card to the controller. Read more about the Firenze Card here »
The old ATAF website is no longer available and the new AT website has no maps, it relies on "trip planners" to show you which buses to take. For now, I am keeping this section to show the main lines that cross the historical center, basically the colored routes of the C1, C2, C3 and D lines. Since the Duomo area, Via Tornabuoni and Piazza Pitti are all now pedestrian-only areas, most of the buses going outdide of the center either can be picked up outside the SMN train station or in Piazza San Marco.
For more information: You can find contact information for the new Autolinee Toscane here. As they have not bothered with creating an English version of the website, it is likely you need to know some Italian to communicate with them. In person, you should go to the AT booth (as I imagine the old ATAF booth will be still in use) is located in the ticket area within the SMN train station: you can buy tickets here, particularly for city to city ("extraurban" service), and they give out information and provide MAPS of the bus routes. The small bus office in Piazza San Marco on the side opposite the church also gives out information. Try to know exactly which bus to get on before getting on and which stop you need to get off on. Normally drivers are not the ideal source for general information on routes - they are trying to concentrate on driving and respecting the route schedule. If you're not sure you're on the right bus, try asking one of the other passengers! Likely they will be happy to help.
Sightseeing Tours within Florence
They've only been in Florence for a few years, but the open top, two story sightseeing buses seen in other cities of the world offer an interesting way to view the city. The buses follow a route to take you by all of the main sights as well as passing by the more panoramic points that you might otherwise not visit if you're going through Florence quickly (meaning limited time like a day in Florence). View details and book your tour of Florence now ».
Visiting nearby areas outside Florence
Tourists interested in seeing areas outside of Florence by bus will find the new company a boon! All of the main cities has their own bus company (CAP, Tiemme, etc) but now the same company runs ALL buses across the region! The BusItalia company will remain to offer service between the Florence airport and the city center and to offer "The Mall" bus service between Florence and the The Mall shopping center in the Valdarno.
If you have any specific questions about how to move around Florence - how to get to a specific landmark or which buses to take, feel free to post your questions on our Florence section of our Forum! We will gladly offer any assistance we can :)!
Last update: November 3, 2021