When in Rome (ignore the pun), Lisa and I were waiting for the “A” line at the Spagna stop next to the Spanish Steps. Although it was our first time in this station, it felt eerily familiar. A bright yellow strip dirtied by countless footprints edged the platform and a dull orange strip with the station name emblazoned upon it lined the wall. Opposite us, the subway tunnel curved into inscrutable dirty puddles and the tunnels led into darkness. It felt as if we were in Boston, waiting at the Downtown Crossing “T” stop.
Stay with me.
The orange line in Boston is notoriously busy, it goes through the center of the city in the busiest shopping areas and connects to other key lines. This also describes the orange A line in Rome, which runs through the city’s main terminal and various popular tourist attractions, such as the Vatican and Piazza del Spagna. Both lines are frequently used by commuters because it connects them to the main regional train lines. As a a result, it is completely packed during rush hour. On our first day of Rome, we caught a train from Termini to Flaminio and all I could think about is how I have not been on a subway car this packed since my commutes from Back Bay to Malden in Boston (it was so bad that there was a man using my head as an elbow rest).
The Boston blue line is cleaner, quieter, and preferred by everyone. The B line in Rome, also blue, is the same. Both lines provide access to the airport, and while they connect to a few busy stops such as Termini (in Rome) and Government Center (in Boston), the cars still remain less-crowded than other trains. The trains are also noticeably nicer and newer with screens that have the stops listed on them.
The urban railway between Flaminio and Montebello looks like it came from another century, because it has. It screeches, tilts sideways, and reaches from the city center underground and stretches to the outskirts of the city suburbs above ground. It requires you to request the train to stop. The stops outside of the city are slightly “janky” and may or may not have a functioning ticket machine. There’s seemingly always one running during operating hours but it never arrives exactly as scheduled. What does this sound like? Boston’s Green line.
Both the Metro and T end service early in the evenings (which is maddening for the night owls in these world-class cities). The Boston subway was a pioneering underground feat in 1897, making it the oldest subway in the U.S. that is still in use. One can definitely argue that many public transportation systems look similar, especially since Boston’s is such an old model. In my extensive internet research, I have not found definitive proof that the Rome Metro takes any inspiration from Boston. But I also haven’t found proof that it didn’t. 🕵️♀️
What do you think? Probable? Not that big of deal? Y or N (Circle one or let us know below!)