Opinion: Spain’s transportation systems are superior to the U.S.

Olivia Bachar, Staff Writer

Spain’s metro stations can also provide snapshots into history, such as this mural made for the 1992 Olympics that can be found in Barcelona.
Credit: Liam Killian

After living in Barcelona for almost three months and utilizing Spanish public transport,  the United States is even more disappointing than I thought. While I am someone who does not drive, I am stuck relying on others to drive me places in the United States. Although there are lots of buses and trains available, it gets way more difficult the further you go. Even in Bloomington-Normal, there is a city bus, but it is not always consistent and the stops can be confusing to figure out. Many people, myself included, would rather pay someone gas money or Uber than attempt the Blo-No bus system. But in Barcelona, public transport reigns supreme, so much so that a majority of people prefer it over driving in cars. 

There is the metro system as well as buses, both of which can get you anywhere in the 101.9 square kilometers of Barcelona, as well as some suburbs. I have found Google Maps to be the most accurate with the schedule of the metro and buses. I just plug in my destination and I usually get a few options with varying amounts of walking and overall lengths of the journey. Even during rush hour traffic, which is typically in the late afternoon and evening, trains still run on schedule. 

A one-way ticket costs 2.40 euros ($2.68 in U.S.) with multi day and trip passes ranging from 4 euros to 80 euros. Children aged 4-16 ride free with their own specialty pass. I use a pass, which covers all modes of public transportation with varying options. Someone studying abroad can get a four-month pass, while someone vacationing for a week can also get a 10 trip pass. In my experience, a majority of people in public transit are Spanish residents, the minority between study abroad students and some tourists.

Although there are plenty of cars and drivers in Barcelona, many people still choose to take public transit. Gas prices have significantly risen recently in Spain due to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Also, there are virtually no parking lots, although there are some parking garages, it is mostly street parking. Though parking, similar to in the US, tends to fill up and remain that way constantly. My host aunt had told me she prefers using the metro over driving since it’s more convenient for her to get to work, as there is limited parking and a metro station in close proximity. 

 It is going to be a hard transition when I return to the United States, having to once again ask people for rides, pay gas money and depend on my parents to get me to my summer job. It honestly is one of my least favorite things about the US that it is hard to get around without a driver’s license. I remain hopeful that the US will take notice of other countries like Spain and fix the current public transportation system. For now, here’s to asking friends and family for rides and taking the Blo-No city bus, reminiscing the convenience of Barcelona’s transport system.