Traffic in Rome at Christmas goes from chaotic to mad and every year the city authorities do their best to encourage residents to leave their cars at home.

This year, the four public transport companies, ATAC, Met.Ro, Sita and Trambus, together with the city council, have produced an even more extensive Christmas package than usual.

The number of buses running on 16 of the busiest routes has been increased. All these lines start in the outskirts of the city and either pass through the centre or run to a major commercial area. They include lines no 60, 70, 80, 160 and 451. Five express buses which normally run from the outskirts to the city centre only on Sundays will run every day over the Christmas period. They are the 120E from S. Basilio to Piazza del Popolo, the 130E from Tor de Cenci to Piazzale Clodio, the 150E from Via di Roccacencia to Piazza del Popolo, the 180E from Corviale to Ottaviani and the 190E from Casalotti to Piazza Venezia.

A new shuttle bus service will run free of charge from five parking areas or metro stops to nearby shopping centres. The Sh1 from Piazzale della Radio to ex Mercati Generali in Ostiense, Sh2 from Via Cipro to Piazza Augusto Imperatore in the historic centre, the Sh3 from Stazione del Lido to Via dellIdroscalo (at Ostia), the Sh4 from Stazione Metro Agnanina to Via della Sorbona (in the shopping complex outside the Gran Raccordo Anulare) and Sh5 from Magliana to Viale Europa in EUR.

Parking in the ex Mercati Generali and the Cornelia (Boccea) park and ride car parks will be free for everyone. In a further five car parks, at Ponte Mammolo, Agnanina, Laurentina, Magliana and Saxa Rubra, parking will be free if the car owner presents a bus ticket that has been validated on the same day. In these car parks users will be able to buy two bus tickets for the price of one on Saturdays and Sundays.

The historic centre is closed to all traffic expect vehicles owned by residents and permit holders until 20.00 each day, instead of the usual 18.00. However on Sunday 12 and Sunday 19 December all zones will be open to everyone.

The new public transport package came into effect on 8 December and runs until 23 December.

Special traffic and transport arrangements still have to be announced for the festivities at the Piazza Navona for Epiphany, the public holiday on 6 January.

Finally, work on the metro line A has been postponed until after the holidays. Originally it was due to begin in October and the line was due to close every night at 21.00 until December 2007. Work will now begin on 10 January and until then trains will run until 23.30 every night.