“The coach I got in was about as dignified as a match-box. The train rambled on for about five minutes, and then I had to get off. No wonder the fare was cheap.”
-Natsume Sōseki, Botchan
Before I arrived in Perugia, I researched public transportation in the town of fewer than 200,000 people. I really only wanted to find out how to get to my apartment from the train station–the town wasn’t all that big, but there was a significant distance to walk between the station and the apartment with all the luggage I had (e.g. my hefty backpack and medium-sized suitcase). What I found was that the university town has what is known as the MiniMetro.
This automated, single-car public transportation system is limited to one line that runs from the center of town on top of the hill down to the train station and into the outskirts of town for total length of 2 miles and seven stations. The MiniMetro cars run every 90 seconds and can carry up to 25 people, though I wouldn’t expect it to be comfortable with more than 10. Although most of the town is concentrated in the old center on the hill, which takes about a half hour to wander through, Perugia is spread out over 173 sq. mi.
I took this small cable car two stops to the train station on my trip to Florence–it’s like riding a roller coaster that goes at a snail’s pace. When I returned, however, I found that the MiniMetro, which started operation in 2008, was suspended for annual maintenance for the next three weeks–I wasn’t able to take it again until I departed for Venice. Fortunately, there are plenty of buses around the town that are more convenient in some cases.
I had a difficult time understanding the necessity of such a transportation system with the buses in town and the size of the population. I only met a couple people who took the MiniMetro on a semi-regular basis.