Bad start for Rome's Metro C

Low numbers of commuters on Metro C

Rome's third underground railway line Metro C, which partially opened just over two weeks ago, remains relatively deserted according to statistics released by the city's transport company ATAC.

The easternmost section of the line, from Pantano to Centocelle, has welcomed an average of 12,000 passengers a day since it was launched on 9 November. This number is a far cry from the 12,000 per hour that the system was designed to carry.

The news is a cause for concern for Rome's transport councillor Guido Improta who said that if the numbers remain this low then the city would have to "rethink" the project.

However despite the less than encouraging statistics, there are a couple of reasons that the first section of the Metro C has got off to such a poor start. Firstly it is not connected to the existing underground network, and secondly the bus 105 and railway line Roma Giardinetti (which carries 35,000 passengers per day) cover much of the same route above ground.

Some commentators have even suggested that, unlike the new metro line, the bus and train are easier to board without paying for tickets.

The launch of the Pantano-Centocelle section saw the inaugural train break down for 11 minutes and when, later in the morning, the mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino arrived to inaugurate the service, he became trapped inside the train doors, in front of the waiting television cameras.

Since construction began in 1990, the troubled Metro C project has been beset with difficulties including funding overspends, lengthy delays and the abandonment of planned stations across the historic centre caused by the discovery of archaeological remains underground.