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Tour buses a growing Roman problem PDF Print E-mail
Aug 17, 2013 at 06:29 PM
ImageWith their economy in tatters, Romans understandably are pleased that so many tourists have chosen Rome as their summer destination. But there are drawbacks. The downtown area - and now, increasingly, areas such as the Soho-like Trastevere, increasingly are invaded by hordes of  visitors, dutifully trailing along behind their tour guides. Restaurants catering primarily to tourists have broken with Italian mealtime traditions by staying open uninterruptedly from 12 noon to 12 midnight. And yet another problem is constituted by the mammoth tour buses that back up city traffic and that often park illegally on city streets, worsening air pollution by leaving their motors running for hours to keep air conditioning systems active. 
According to city regulations, no more than 300 of these buses - the Italians call them pullman - are supposed to be in Rome each day. But because of weekly, monthly and  yearly passes, that number is rarely kept to. Indeed, the 539 parking spaces designated for these vehicles - but in which they are supposed to park for a limited time only, generally only for 15 minutes - are insufficient with the result that many park in non-designated areas.  A survey done by the environmentalist organization, the Legambiente, showed that in recent weeks at least 40 percent of the buses parking on the Colle Oppio hill that overlooks the Coliseum, overstayed their allotted time. On one recent day, between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., 64 tour buses were parked along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the avenue that cuts through the forums and leads to the Coliseum. The study said that every 30 seconds a pullman drove by that monument, the real name of which is the Flavium Amphitheatre after the dynasty of Roman emperors that built it.
Even worse, it was recently discovered that many of these buses had counterfeit insurance certificates, at least some of which were manufactured by a Neapolitan company. This is taken particularly seriously since the tragic accident last month when a busload of Italian pilgrims  plunged off a viaduct, killing 36 outright and putting 11 others in the hospital. The bus had been inspected fairly recently prior to the accident but reportedly was falling apart in the moments before it went off the road.
Rome's traffic police have not been idle, however.  Since the beginning of July, they have inspected 819 tourist buses, discovered hundreds of violations, levying fines and withdrawing numerous permits.
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