Our Blog - Metro Blog
I decided to do a short metro blog on the Toulouse metro system. We used it the other day for the first time and found it very easy to understand and use, even though we had never used it before. I call it a "metro" blog but it really will cover several types of public transportation but the majority will be about the metro, since that is what we have used.
As normal, I'll start with a little bit of history. It is managed by a group called Tisseo, and includes two actual metro lines, two suburban rail lines, and 2 tram lines. It is a relatively young, having opened in 1993 with a single line (Line A). Line B opened in 2007 along with some extensions to the various lines and the tram coming in the following years. We actually currently live very close to one of the stations on line B, one station north of where the metro lines A and B intersect. The two rail lines are like the RER in Paris, which link the metro to various towns within the suburbs and surrounding area. The two tram lines are similar, going out further into the suburbs and surrounding towns. The tram line is also the way you get to the Airport.
One interesting thing about the two metro lines are that they are totally automatic lines ... that is .. driverless. The platforms have doors that separate the platform (and therefore, the people) from the tracks. As the train stops at the platform, the doors of the train car match the platform doors and then they open, allowing the passengers to enter. Then they close and the train moves on.
Using the metro is really pretty simple. First, you buy a ticket from one of the machines in the station. The machine is easy to use and you can switch to English if you want. It takes either coins or credit card (no bills). One note, they don't seem to give out a "carnet" or book of 10 tickets like Paris ... if you do 10 trips, it is a single card that has 10 trips on it that you can use over and over until you use up the 10 trips.
Once you have your ticket, you head to the entrance gates. If you happen to be at Jean Jaures, which is the common station, make sure you find the entry gates for the right metro line (A or B). Feed the ticket with the arrow pointing into the machine, into the yellow slot on any entry gate with a green arrow. It will pop the ticket back out of the top, grab it and push through the gate.
The stations tend to be fairly far down, so follow the escalators or stairs down to the platform. In some cases, there are multiple sets of stairs/escalators to get down to the platform.
When you get there, you will see the platform doors. There should be a sign that indicates how many minutes until the 1st and 2nd trains will arrive. One thing to note .. the platform is much longer than the trains are, so try to stand where others are and not at the ends. When the train arrives, stay to the side when the doors open to let the people off the train, and then step inside.
This is not the best picture, but I wanted to grab one inside the train as it was going down the track. I was at the very front, so you can see exactly where the train is going as the entire front of the train is a big window. I got a bit of a reflection (sorry).
And this is as we were coming into the next station, and you can see the platform doors on the left (again, sorry for the reflection). While you are on the train, remember to give up your seat for the elderly and injured. They also have "strapatons", which are fold-down seats ... only use these when the trains are not busy.
They have a map of the two metro lines within the train.
That's it! Keep the ticket until you finish your trip and exit the station. If you have a multi-trip ticket, be sure to keep it safe.
There are a large number of bus lines, and the Tisseo website is really good at providing information on them, including PDFs with a map of the route. For example, there is a free navette (shuttle bus) which goes around the downtown area (centre ville) and the website has a PDF map which clearly shows the exact route. Our apartment is near the upper-right of their route near Jeanne d'Arc. As you can see, it is a pretty good map and route around. This navette is free and if you want to get on, you just wave to the driver as it comes around and it will stop.
This is different from the other buses, where you have to be specifically at the bus stop and there is a cost. The PDFs (example, http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/Tisseo_ligne_15web.pdf) for the other lines are either more helpful or less helpful, depending on your viewpoint. They are more helpful in that they provide detailed schedules, but less helpful in that it only shows a single line with the stops, but they aren't put on a map. As you become familiar with the city, it may not be all that important as you may know where these places are. As well, there is a very detailed map PDF which you can zoom in on and look at every line. You use the same ticket on the bus, metro, and Tram.
There are also Trams, although we haven't actually ridden one yet. We have seen them drive by. I'm sure we will end up eventually taking the tram, since one of the trams goes to the Toulouse Airport, which I assume we'll be taking sooner or later when we start traveling a bit more.
We've found that Google Maps doesn't do that well with directions for Toulouse, but the Tisseo website (and the Tisseo app) have a great Itinerary feature which allows you to search for what available routings there are between two points, including time that you would leave. You can also customize to only use certain types of transport (like metro + tram but not the bus).