It’s a real race against the clock for Rome. A city which already features many problems on regular days, has to step up to welcome the many millions of people expected for the 2015-16 Jubilee.
The very short notice entails a “light” Holy Year compared to the previous ones and it also means that there is no time to build anything new, from scratch. We’re too slow down here to make something big in eight months…
The official proclamation of the Jubilee will be on April 12, when the Papal bull will be published. But the event calendar could be presented even later, probably during the month of May.
Furthermore, there is not much money available. The easy situation of the year 2000 is far away. For this Jubilee the financial resources will be very limited, less than half of John Paul II‘s second Jubilee.
This time around the Vatican will have to cooperate more with the Italian and local authorities because the short notice is definitely a problem. The Pope will also have to contribute financially to smooth things out.
First thing to smooth are Rome’s road, full of holes and bumps. Then waste management will have to be improved. But the biggest challenge is transportation, of course.
FORGET THE CAR!
Lesson n.1 is: forget your car and private bus. This Jubilee will be basically car-free.
So how are you going to move around the city? Train, underground, walking, biking.
Let’s begin with the train. Tiburtina station has just been completed and is now ready to become the main railway station of Rome. The area around Termini will be completely overhauled and improved. The train connection between the Rome Fiumicino airport and the city will be boosted. An internal railway line connecting northern Rome with the Vatican area will reopened thanks to a 112mln € investment. Even the local trains to/from nearby cities in Lazio will be increased with an additional financial effort by the Region.
Rome’s underground will also be extended. The Line C that connects the south-eastern suburbs to the city center will have a new stop (Piazza Lodi) by September and should reach S. Giovanni, and therefore the line A by the summer of 2016. The Piazzale Jonio stop of line B1 should be done in a few weeks. And 120 mln € for renovation works on both lines A and B are already earmarked.
The bus network is a weak point. The city government recently streamlined the bus service, cutting routes and lines. Now hundreds of new buses are necessary to accommodate pilgrims and the local transport company has no money for that: Mr Renzi please help! More preferential traffic lanes for buses will be created, smart traffic lights will be introduced and fewer downtown stops will increase the speed of public buses in Rome. Good luck!
Biking and walking will also play their part. More walking facilities and indications for the Via Francigena religious itinerary from North will be made. In downtown Rome pedestrian paths connecting the four basilicas are being prepared. Via dei Fori Imperiali will be permanently closed, even public transport buses and cabs will be left out.
The biking lane network around the Vatican will be completed and bike and car sharing solutions will be welcome.
Private buses will stay outside the city center. Rome is already clogged with pilgrims buses that come for ordinary religious events during the year, let alone with the Jubilee.
Traffic bans for cars and private buses for the whole of Rome (excluding the suburbs) will be in force on Wednesdays and Sundays already before December 8.
Permanent, free public toilets in downtown Rome (40-50 at least) will be provided.
And a Special Jubilee tourism card should be offered with discounts for museums and transport. Work in progress.
One last request: no trade union/political party parades or gatherings in Rome during the Holy Year, please go somewhere else!