Undoubtedly, Madrid Metro or (Metro de Madrid, in Spanish) is commuting at its finest. The convenience and ease of travel that this mass transit system at Spain’s capital city brings to people cannot be denied. I can’t see any flaw in the system. Trains arrive promptly, and there were even a few times when they come earlier than the announced time of arrival (flashed on a digital sign). Station names and arrow signs are located conspicuously within the Metro to guide commuters properly. There is evidence of sparse vandalism in a few cars and station walls and glass doors, but in general, the metro is clean.
Turnstiles to go in and out of the Metro. At the left of the photo is a machine where you have your abono de transporte activated for use for 30 days. The same machine disposes single or 10-journey billetes, which cost from 1.50 to 2.00 euro, depending on the length of your ride, and 12.20 euro for the 10-ride tickets. At right is a booth manned by Metro personnel that accept inquiries or extend assistance, like if your abono malfunctions (this happens to me at times).
Like most metro systems of other major cities in the world, Madrid Metro can be confusing especially for first-time riders. It took me more than a month before I could ride the train finally with confidence, with nary a fear that I’d be lost or take the wrong train or line. I consider myself now as an expert rider. Gone are the days when I would sometimes forget which platform to wait for the train and which way to exit.
Once I had the misfortune of misplacing my 10-ride ticket ( I have yet to apply for an abono then) while a random inspection was being done at the Alvarado Station along Bravo Murillo. Everyone had to fall in line and show their billete or abono card for scanning to verify if indeed they were valid. Rummaging through my pockets, I got two tickets, but I couldn’t determine the one I used for that ride. The Metro officer, who speaks English, asked why I presented two tickets, to which I replied that both are good anyway. “Bien,” she retorted, “otherwise you would have to pay a fine.” “Great Scott!,” I exclaimed to myself in silence, and prayed hard that there wouldn’t be any problem. Was I relieved when both indeed turned out valid.
Thankfully now, I own an abono that I can use for a full 30 days, day in and day out. Incidentally, you can apply for yours at a designated Metro office. There is one at Puerta del Sol, which surprisingly has a short line of applicants considering that it’s situated in a busy location. I got mine at Plaza de Castilla. The whole process took me around 15 minutes, including waiting time, which is no time at all since I was assigned a cita or appointment schedule via the Internet. Remember to bring along your passport or ID card for identification. Also, make sure to have 4 euro as payment for the corresponding fee. Once you receive your card, you may go to the machine to have it ready for use (this will cost you around 54 euro). Did you happen to lose your abono? Just report it at a Metro office and they will gladly replace your card with a new one.
Empty escalators can be an ordinary sight at many stations in the city. If you want to experience busier stations, try those at Vodafone Sol, Moncloa, or Nuevos Ministerios, and be prepared to jostle and deal with tons of fellow passengers.
Needless to say, Madrid’s Metro is one of the most efficient and accessible subway train systems in the whole of Europe. You must love using the Metro regularly, if only for the ultimate riding satisfaction that it offers. While you’re at it, go and get your abono (if you don’t have one yet). It’s the essential tool that not only makes for a convenient Metro ride, but a lot cheaper one as well.