A special series. Getting Around: Public Transportation in Barcelona — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
[Photo 1: An example of my last T-10 TMB card, a rectangular piece of card stock with all the means of transportation that it can be used for listed along the bottom.]
As I ran down the stairs and jumped into the train just as the warning alarm began to sound, I realized how grateful I was for Barcelona’s public transportation system. Waking up late, while normally little more than an inconvenience, meant that this morning I would have had to sprint the mile that was between where I was and where I needed to be in less than a half hour. Perhaps if I was readily prepared with my running gear this wouldn’t have put me in such a pickle, but as it was, I was no where near equipped to run the mile to school in time for my 9AM exam. This is where Barcelona’s TMB system comes in handy.
With a fully integrated bus, metro and tram lines, Barcelona boasts a highly convenient public transportation system. With one ticket, you gain access to all three modes of transportation, which run the expanse of the city starting early in the morning and running late into the night – all night on Saturdays and some holidays. These TMB tickets are also useful when it comes to getting to and from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport, as both the high-speed buses and the trains that run the airport circuit accept the metro ticket as fare.
[Photo 2: The ViuBicing corrals decorate the city streets near the popular stops, shown here is the line of bikes about a block away from my University, on my walk home.]
Apart from the three large modes of public transportation, Barcelona also boasts a huge cycling community. On almost any major street you will see strange bike corrals, home to the nomadic ViuBicing bikes that anyone can pick up, ride around, and drop off at will at any station around town once they’ve paid the annual fee. Barcelona streets have separate lanes for the bikers, and these bikers are a constant sight all day every day. Motos and scooters are also highly popular with much easier maneuverability through traffic and ample parking available on the extra wide sidewalks. And if any of these options don’t suite your fancy, there are always taxis to hail. Coming from Duluth, I’ve maybe been in a taxi twice in my life before coming to Barcelona. Here, though, taking a taxi is much more common and it’s definitely an option of ease if you have the extra 10 euro to spend (comparably, the same price as the 10-ride TMB pass).
[Photo 3: Although there are so many different means of transportation available, I found that walking was my preferred method if my destination was <2 miles away and I had the time.]
Perhaps what surprised me most in Barcelona was how many people simply walk either part or all the way to their desired destination. A relatively flat city, (much different than the rolling hills of Duluth!) Barcelona offers miles of walkways and parks are sprinkled all over the place. If I was venturing anywhere within a mile and had the time to spare, usually the preferred choice was to walk – not only to save my precious TMB metro rides, but also because it’s quite enjoyable to be outside experiencing the life of the city. Pathways are a variety of old cobblestone or new pavement and especially in the Gothic and Born neighborhoods there are always more side streets to explore. The inhabitants of Barcelona, and in most other parts of Spain, spend a good deal of their existence outside of the house, so by walking your way around town you get the best idea of how the people really live – and isn’t that the whole point?
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
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Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
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