The main reason that Barcelona’s bus system is the most developed among European systems is related to the fact that there is no monopoly on city transport services. There are, however, several major players on the market that control specific areas of the network (and even within the metro of Barcelona, the zones of responsibility are divided), including partial ownership by a large, private company. The bus network in Barcelona is regulated by the public company, “Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona.”
The map of Barcelona’s buses has a vast number of lines: at the moment, the number of routes within city limits exceeds one hundred. The total length of the routes constitutes about 925 kilometers, with over a thousand bus stops located along the way. Moreover, the numbers marked on the buses to delineate the lines range from 6 to 196 (although not all numbers can be seen currently on the streets of Barcelona, as some have been cancelled or substituted). Due to such a dense and comfortable bus network in Barcelona, it is almost impossible to get lost for long in the city. The bus stops lie relatively close to each other and are easy to find amidst the urban landscape. The reason for the ease of identification is simple: each bus stop stands out as a small platform with the name and route number clearly delineated. (As a rule, the demarcation of each bus consists of a letter and two numbers.) In addition, riders can find a complete city transport map located at any bus stop in Barcelona and can even find updated, necessary information on the multimedia screens that are mounted on some of the bus stops.
Another advantage is the existence of the free transport applications provided by the bus network that enable travelers to track any bus, manage their schedule, and create the most advantageous city routes for their purposes – all they have to do is hold their mobile devices near the QR-code found at any and all bus stops, or indicate the desired bus number on the application itself. This is an extremely convenient way to search for bus information. Via this application, riders have access to the operating schedule of the buses in Barcelona and the transportation map, and they can track the bus location and transport times in real time.
The tickets for the buses in Barcelona can be purchased on every corner. Although there are hundreds of ticket selling points in the city, you also can buy a ticket directly from the bus driver (in this case, only a single ticket transaction is possible), in the metro ticket offices, and even in tobacco stores. The scheme of city bus use is as follows:
- Travelers should remember that it is possible to enter a bus only through the front door (next to the driver’s seat), but it is possible to exit through all the doors. This particularity almost eliminates the chance to enter the bus as a “free rider” since those riders boarding the bus will have to pass by a ticket control device directly;
- Upon passing a ticket control box, you will have to punch your ticket. To do so, it is necessary to insert your ticket into a special slot in the direction indicated by an arrow printed on the ticket itself. If you have a pass for a limited number of rides, your ticket will be ejected with information newly printed on the ticket that stands for the number of rides remaining;
- It is almost impossible to miss your bus stop since the current and upcoming stops are announced loudly on most buses and are shown on a screen as a running bulletin. In order to inform the driver of your intention to exit the bus, just press the button for “Solicitut de parada” (stop requested) next to the doors;
- Another fantastic tip that not all tourists know is that the ticket for any transport vehicle in Barcelona is valid for one hour and fifteen minutes. In other words, within this period of time, you can change your means of transport without having to use a separate ticket;
- The price for a single bus ticket in Barcelona is 2.15 euros for movement within a single zone (as a rule, this describes most travel conditions, since the whole city center and some suburbs lie within the limits of zone 1). If you have to ride more than three times, it will be logical to purchase a T-10 pass, the ticket that enables a passenger to travel 10 times (and costs 9.95 euros). The Barcelona transport network makes available a great number of various types of passes that are valid for all types of above-ground and underground transport. As a passenger, the only thing you must choose is the option that works best for you;
- Despite the fact that ticket control devices exist in all the buses in Barcelona, sometimes ticket checks are conducted. The fine for a ride without a ticket is 100 euros.
The bus circulating hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 22:30, in 5-10 minute intervals.
Night buses in Barcelona
Even at night, the city transport network continues working. To this end, 17 night buses operate from 22:15 until 05:20 a.m. in Barcelona. It is quite easy to spot a night bus because it is sure to bear a yellow stripe and the name of a route beginning with the letter “N.” In order to plan your night-time itinerary around the city in the most efficient manner, another option is to use a mobile application. In addition, remember that all night buses stop at Plaza de Catalunya. Night buses in Barcelona operate at longer intervals than the daytime buses. Hence, the waiting time may be 20-40 minutes at night, depending on the route.
Bus routes to the airport and tourist buses in Barcelona
The ability to reach the main airport of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia by means of a great range of quick and convenient transport options is one of the considerable advantages of the transport network in Catalonia. One of these options is to take the special bus called “Aerobus,” which travels directly to El Prat. “Aerobus” circulates on a daily basis at intervals of 5-10 minutes from Plaza de Catalunya to Barcelona’s airport. By the way, there are many night buses in Barcelona that go to the airport, bearing the numbers 16 and 17.
Moreover, it will benefit those who are first-time visitors to Barcelona if we mention the most popular routes for these passengers, the tourist buses in Barcelona. There are three tourist routes (the colors of the buses on each of these vary depending on the route), and the ride duration ranges from 40 minutes to two hours. These routes cover all the key landmarks and famous places in the city. Plus, the possibility of riding on the upper deck of the bus guarantees spectacular city views. Visitors also can rent an audio guide in the bus, although it is a more common practice that a guide will be on board to provide brief insights into all of the interesting landmarks. Adjacent to the most important sights, the excursion program provides for small stops and walks to take photographs and explore.
The specialists of INEEDSpain service center are always prepared to provide all kinds of necessary assistance to both the novice and experienced traveler. We are happy to clarify all of the issues related to the use of city infrastructure as well as plan for excursions, make bus-ride bookings, and organize your tours.