With construction of the city’s Metro system not yet complete, public transport provision in much of central Naples has to be shouldered by the humble bus. What is on offer here is demonstrated as soon as you head away from the airport, with one exception, which will become obvious.
Outside arrivals, there are two different – and differently priced – bus services ready to take you downtown. The more frequent Alibus service offers new vehicles with air conditioning, but also costs three Euro a trip, whereas the more ordinary 3S service will only set you back the usual 90 minute fare of 1,10. But the 3S runs older buses without aircon, and its timekeeping is in the imperfect category (the city’s traffic makes sure of that).
And on board, the environment is decidedly Spartan: moulded seats without padding, large standing area, and the driver almost completely shut away behind a partition more severe than anything in the UK. For starters, bus drivers in Naples handle no money: you buy your ticket from retailers around the city before travelling, then validate it on board.
However, the 3S has at least one good point: even though there aren’t many seats, you should have no problem getting one of them, as loadings aren’t so heavy for most of the day. This is not the case with anything moving along the coast between central Naples and Mergellina, where crush loads are routine throughout daylight hours. Once again, the rule for maximum loading seems to be that there aren’t any rules: folks pile on board until no more can be squeezed in.
Things may get better when the Metro works finish: not only should that provide a fast underground link between the city centre and Mergellina (thus relieving both buses and the Cumana suburban rail link), but the disruption to the road network may also cease.
Until then, you’re on the buses. Move right down inside now ...