Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Toulouse Metro/Tram/Bus (14-April-2014)

I wanted to learn to use the public transportation system and talked my husband into going with me to figure it out. It was a beautiful day so we decided to go downtown Toulouse without the car.

The public transportation system in Toulouse is called Tisseo. It consists of buses, a tram and two metro lines (a third under construction)

We live in Mondonville which is about as far away as you can live and still have access to the Tisseo system. Normally for me to go downtown I would take a 20 minute bus ride from Mondonville to the first tram stop, then take a 40-50 minute tram line (about 20 stops) to the metro line I want. Then a 5-8 minute metro ride. When you factor in the waits for your bus, tram and metro to get to you - a trip downtown can easily take 60-90 minutes one-way. Not ideal.

To learn the system we drove to the first tram stop. There is free parking there which is one of the main reasons to use the system. Parking downtown can be as high as $20+ a day depending on how long you are there.

You can purchase Tisseo tickets at any of the tram stops. If you are taking a bus you can purchase from the bus driver. There are also a number of retail locations (Mostly Tobacs) that will also sell tickets. At the tram station the ticket machines are right next to where you get on and off the tram.

The machines allow you to purchase new tickets or to "recharge" your "Pastel" card - a permanent card with your photo that allows you to purchase multiple rides or unlimited rides for a month or a year at a much lower rate than a single ride. The cards are a great deal if you use the public transportation system much at all. Especially for students - Anyone under the age of 26 can purchase unlimited rides for only 10 Euro a month. Since many kids use the system every day they go to school the card is very economical. For adults a month pass is around 37 Euro. To obtain a Pastel card you must visit a Tisseo office and have a copy of a recent photo. They will make the card for you with a one time fee of 8 Euro.

The machines will allow you to choose your language which makes it very easy. You just select the options you want, including the type of ticket you want and how many. Once you've made your selection you can pay using your French bank cards, cash, or coins.

Yea! We have our tickets
When you board the bus, tram or train you will insert your ticket into a validation machine to show you have paid for your ride. A single journey ticket will allow you to change stops up to three times in one hour. So if you are taking the tram to the metro and the metro to a final destination then you can use your 1-journey ticket for both stops.

When you're at the tram or metro stations you can determine where you are going very easily if you know your stop name. You can find out your stop name by visiting the Tisseo website before you go and creating your itinerary. You say where you are starting from and where you are going and it will tell you what types of transportation and what stops you need to take to get there. It includes walking directions if you need to walk during any part of your journey.

Sometimes the rural buses will say "Arete Demand" or Stop on Demand. This will be shown up by the driver. This means the driver will only stop at each stop along the line if you ask him or if he sees someone waiting at the stop. To ask the driver to stop you wait for your stop to be announced. Then you press one of the small red buttons located throughout the bus before you get to your stop. Very simple as long as you know where your stop is. I've also noticed on the buses that most people say goodbye or good day to the driver when they get off - especially the school kids.

Overall the system is very easy to use. I've used it now about 4-5 times and have never had any problem. It can be quite crowded but that is just part of the experience. You do need to be aware of your surroundings and be careful of pickpockets. Do not put your phone or wallet in your back pants pocket. Women keep the opening of your purse toward you with your hand over the top. If possible wear your purse strap over your head and one shoulder so it can't be grabbed. While I haven't had any problems yet I know it does happen with some regularity - so just travel smart.

For more information on the Toulouse transportation system visit

No comments: