Kids ride free on the ACTV

actv_logo.pngThe Venice public transit company ACTV just announced that beginning September 1, kids under six years old can ride the vaporetto (water bus) and other public tranportation for free. This includes traveling kids, too.

The significant discounts offered by VeniceConnected.com with four days or more advance purchase notwithstanding, outfitting little ones with pricey passes always seemed un po’ esagerata, a bit too much. But in an agreement announced Friday afternoon, ACTV said in these recession-conscious times it was going to try to do its part to curb transit fees.

Those traveling before September 1 will still have to pony up, but September should be bring welcome relief for traveling families.

p.s. Don’t forget too, about the €4 Rolling Venice card which entitles 14 to 29-year-olds to purchase the €33, 72-hour vap pass for €18, and includes a variety of other discounts, too. Purchase both on-site at any Tourist Info or HelloVenezia office.

People Mover moves out (sort of).

IMG_4028.jpgThe long-heralded People Mover was inaugurated on Monday, amidst considerable fanfare. Here, at last, was a convenient, comfortable tram that would connect Tronchetto, the Isle of Parking, with Piazzale Roma, the last stop for wheeled motor traffic before entering Venice proper.

Until Monday, the means to get from one place to the other was limited to bus number 6/ (every twenty minutes), a water or land taxi, vaporetto Line 2, or on foot (for the truly fit, especially with luggage). And the Marittima port? The 6/ stops there (or, in front of the entrance to it), and there are secret, private motor coaches run by the various cruise companies, about which there is so little information that most cruise passengers don’t even know they exist.

It would be People Mover to the rescue however, regularly easing thousands of travelers comfortably into the Piazzale three car-fulls at a time, where they could then pick up the vaporetto, taxi or bridge or their choosing. Or, that’s what we assumed.

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pm_vista.jpgIt’s true, the tram is running, and its spacious, climate-controlled, silent electronic cars loft frequently over the Santa Marta canal and wholesale fish market on their pilgrimage to Tronchetto and back — sliding right by the Marittima port stop. For reasons unknown to us all, the port doesn’t seem to be in any rush to make the second stop on the People Mover tram accessible to their passengers. Peering down from the tram stop (with its pristine platforms, elevators, and escalators to nowhere) as the train floats by, you can spy some activity among workmen below, but it’s clear that the wasteland between the port entrance and the tram itself will take some time to tame. And when it is finally complete, it won’t be, shall we say, exceptionally handy.

pm_portoaccesso.jpg“Six months,” said one operator when asked how long til completion, which means nine, months minimum…well after a whole season of cruise travelers will have come and gone. For whatever reason, the port was unable to coordinate the landscaping of the tram access to the time of its opening. Not enough advance notice? Lack of permessi? Lack of (fill in the blank)? With as much power as the port wields in the tiny, infinitely famous town, that doesn’t seem logical. Add one more item to list of Things We Don’t Quite Comprehend About Venice.

The People Mover should prove some relief to pendolari who travel regularly to and from Venice by car, who’ll also be able to purchase monthly passes. To get to or from Tronchetto yourself, you can catch the tram after purchasing a 1€ ticket from the machine at the entrances, either on the Tronchetto end or at the Piazzale Roma entrance, located in the corner right next to the Baggage Deposit and the Pullman Bar (see the turquoise marker in the lower-left corner).

In the meantime, for you cruise passengers: arrangiatevi: you’ll just have to make do with current options.

View Piazzale Roma, Venice in a larger map

New Eco-vaporetto makes fewer waves

201003181656.jpgJust in time for Easter, the ACTV announces the arrival of ten new eco-sustainable vaporetti (water buses). As you can see in the photo, they don’t look much different than the models they’ll be replacing; in fact, they’ll carry the same number of passengers.

The improvements, according to the Ufficio Stampa (Venice press office) are on the inside. They promise added comfort in the form of heating and air-conditioning, and the number of wheelchair spaces has been increased from two to four.

The most welcome news, though, is their eco-friendliness: they implement a new generation of engines that reduce harmful emissions by 30%. The engines are also quieter; the boats are designed to make fewer waves. And according to the announcement, these new vaps cost less to produce than the last generation, always a positive note.

Little by little, the new shiny vaporetti will enter service for Lines 1 and 2 that travel up and down the Grand and Giudecca canals; the first immediately, three in May, three more in September, and the last three in November.

An eco-friendly, air-conditioned vaporetto. Pensa. (Think of that.)

Car or no car, consider the Ferryboat.

When traveling between Lido and Venice proper, you’d normally choose one of many vaporetto options: Line 1 for Sant’Elena, Giardini, the Riva and Grand Canal, Lines 41/2, 51/2 that encircle the city, or even Line 62 to Piazzale Roma via the Giudecca Canal.

There’s another alternative that occurs to too few people, but sometimes is just the ticket, especially to avoid jam-packed boats at the end of an event or day at the beach.

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ACTV Line 17 is not a vaporetto, but a traghetto, also known as the Ferryboat. It’s a good deal larger because it’s able to transport motor vehicles between Lido and the main car park at Tronchetto (unlike Venice, Lido has roads, and cars). You don’t have to have a car to board, though; and although its form is not what we might classify as attractive, if Lido or Tronchetto is your destination (or even your transfer point), the Ferry-boat can be a valid, even preferable option.

Come mai? And why might that be?

  • First, because it’s non-stop. If returning from Lido, you’ll board at San Nicolò (a few hundred meters north of S.M. Elisabetta, also reachable by bus) and arrive at Tronchetto.
  • Second, because there’s a second level, the upper deck offers an immensely gratifying view of the lagoon,  the Riva, San Giorgio Maggiore, and the Giudecca Canal, even (or perhaps especially) at sunset or after dark.
  • Third, there’s even a bar, so you could enjoy a panino and a caffè, a prosecco, or even a Spritz, should you be so inclined.
  • Finally, because passage is included in your ACTV vaporetto transit pass. Of course, if you have a car or bike or kayak or some other mobile thing, you can take it along with you…but it’s not a requisite.

The passage is thirty-five minutes, and from Tronchetto you can pick up Line 2 and continue on your normal vaporetto way (or vice-versa, of course).

It’s the little things…yes?

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For more info on Line 17 and every other vaporetto line in town, get your print, fold, and go copy of The Vap Map vaporetto guide. It’s the handiest way to make sure you never miss the boat.

“Indispensible.”