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The Nice bus system is fairly extensive as it connects all parts of town as well as the outskirts. (See a bus map) Buses are modern, air-conditioned and fairly comfortable as far as buses go. Yes, they can be quite crowded but the special bus lanes on major streets means they can get you to your destination much faster than a car especially during rush hours.
Convenient as it is, the buses don't hold a candle to the tramway for journeys between the Old Town and north Nice and between the Airport and central Nice. The tram is more frequent and runs longer hours. More.
Bus service starts early (around 5 or 6am) but for a major city, the buses in Nice start to peter out unusually early, around 9 or 9.30pm or so, depending on the bus and the station. Frequency varies according to the route but is generally every 10 to 20 minutes. Buses are more frequent on weekdays and substantially less frequent on Sundays.
At 9.10pm the night buses or Noctambus start which is a system of five separate lines running from the town center to various destinations in town. Service ends at 1.10am. Noctambuses are indicated by the "N" before the number: N1, N2, N3, N4, N5. Buses run every hour on weekdays and every half hour on weekends. Not every bus stop is served by a Noctambus. It's advisable to check the schedule before heading out. Note that the Noctambus will cease operations the 2 September 2019 (see below).
Airport buses 98 and 99 have ceased operations as of July 1. Instead, there's the new express line, Aeroport Direct, which will supplement Tram Ligne 2 during the hours when the line is not running. Note that in the summer of 2019 Tram Ligne 2 will be on limited hours during the week. Full service should begin in the autumn. (see hours and more for Ligne 2) Here are the summer schedules for Aeroport Direct:
Could this be more confusing? I think not! Notice that the areas marked in yellow are for boarding only in the direction of the Airport and descending only in the direction of central Nice. Notice also that this bus does not run when Line 2 runs which is marked in blue. And yes, the schedule is different on weekdays and weekends.
Whether by bus or tram, the price is €1.50 which is markedly cheaper than the former airport buses.
Local bus line 23 still runs from the Airport/Promenade stop on the Promenade des Anglais in front of Terminal 1 to Nice Nord along the Promenade des Anglais.
1. You must flag down the bus as it approaches
2. You should board at the front and exit at the rear door
3. You must insert your ticket into the validating machine to be stamped even if your ride is a transfer. There are occasional checks and you will be levied an on-the-spot fine for not having a ticket or not having a validated ticket.
4. You may ask the bus driver to let you know when you arrive at your desired stop but only if the bus is not crowded with passengers. Otherwise, consult the list of stops in the bus or keep an eye on the sign at each bus stop.
5. Before you reach the stop, you (or someone else) must press the red button fixed to poles so that an Arret Demandé flashes in red overhead the driver.
All tickets are valid on buses or trams.
The price of a single ticket is €1.50 and you can buy it on board directly from the driver. The ticket is good for all transfers that take place within 74 minutes but is not good for a return trip.
Do as locals do and buy a 10-ride multi-voyage card for €10. There is no expiration date and it can be used for group travel. Just punch in the validator once for each person. As in the single-ticket, the card is good for transfers in the same direction for 74 minutes. The card must be validated for each transfer.
There's also a daily pass for €5 which is economical if you'll be doing a lot of sightseeing. You can buy this pass from the bus driver or at the machine at any tram stop. To use the daily pass, stamp it in the validatating machine onboard your first trip. After that, you're good to go.
The seven-day pass for €15 is another option if you need to take a number of buses throughout your stay. This pass may not be purchased on board.
Only single tickets for €1.50 and day passes may be purchased in cash on board from the driver. Drivers can give change. Otherwise, there are four ways to buy tickets and passes.
1) There is a vending machine at each tram stop in which you can buy single tickets, multi-voyage cards, day passes and seven-day passes. The machines do not accept banknotes, only coins or credit cards.
2) Sign up for an account at lignesdazur.com and you can purchase your tickets and passes online and have them delivered to your French address.
3) Pay in person at a Lignes d'Azur agency or an authorized distributor. In Nice the Lignes d'Azur agencies are at 1 rue d'Italie or 4 bd Jean Jaures. A full list of the agencies and distributors throughout the region is here.
4) If you have an Android phone equipped with NFC capability, download and install the app NFC Nice Ticket in Google Play (sorry, not yet available for iPhones). Pay for your solo ticket, multi-voyage card, day or weekly pass using a credit card or the app PaybyPhone. To validate the ticket or pass on the bus, make sure NFC is turned on and the screen is on. Place the NFC antenna (usually on the back of the phone) against the validating machine as follows:
Note that the machines on tramways may look slightly different depending on the tram line.
If a ticket inspector asks to see your ticket, simply open the app. This method is convenient because you don't need to keep track of your card. The downside is that for a multi-voyage pass, it can only be used by one person, unlike the physical card.
The Nice bus and tram system is handled by Lignes d'Azur. It is not the most user-friendly system, primarily because timetables and frequencies vary so much from one bus line to the other. On the other hand, the buses are extremely reliable usually arriving within a minute or two of the scheduled time. Here are some planning tools to get you around the bus system:
Your first stop should be the Lignes d'Azur website. Just plug in the addresses of your departure and arrival points and you'll get a precise timetable. Also important are the up-to-the-minute notifcation of service disruptions. Disruptions and detours are frequent because of strikes, construction work, demonstrations and the many events that take place in central Nice.
Lignes d'Azur has a telephone service in which you can find out exactly which bus or buses to take where and at exactly what time the bus arrives at your stop. No kidding. Just call 08 1006 1006 (€.06 per minute). Operators can communicate in English.
Lignes d'Azur has apps for iPhone and Android. The geo-location feature is most helpful if you don't know your nearest stop. Be aware that the app tells you when the bus is supposed to arrive. It is not unusual for a bus to arrive ahead of schedule.
A new app, Zenbus, is in development and will tell you exactly where your bus is and when it will arrive.
At the bus stop you can get the schedule for arriving buses via SMS. Send the number of the bus stop to 31000. The number is at every bus stop (see photo left).
There is also a scannable bar code at each bus stop, compatible with Flashcode, that gives bus schedules. It's worthwhile to download the Flashcode app for iPhone or Android.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Nice bus system will be totally overhauled on 2 September 2019. Few of the previous routes will be maintained. The new network will revolve around Nice tramways, particularly Ligne 2, the east-west route. There will be far fewer buses so as not to duplicate the tram route but the remaining buses will be more frequent. The new lines 5, 6, 7, 8 will run from 5am until until 1am. The Noctambus will no longer exist.
Here are the some of the 2019 changes line by line:
Old line 15 becomes new line 5, serving Deloye, Rimiez-Saint-George
Old lines 3 and 22 become new line 6, serving la Madeleine, l'Archet, Croix-de-Berra
Old line 16 becomes new line 7, serving port Lympia, l'Ariane
Old line 4 becomes new line 8 serving las Planas, hopital Pasteur (via Saint-Sylvestre, Gambetta and right bank of the Paillon)
Old line 94 becomes new line 9 serving Vence, Cagnes, parc Phoenix
Old lines 23 and 27 become new line 11, serving square Daudet, Vallon-des-Fleurs, Bella-Vista
Old line 23 becomes new line 12 serving the Promenade des Arts, Saint-Laurent-du-Var
Old line 6 becomes new line 14 serving Vauban, La Trinité
Old line 81 becomes new line 15 serving Promenade des Arts, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Old lines 19/24 become new line 16 serving col de Bast, Cimiez
Old lines 11/12 become new line 17, serving Ferber, les Arboras
Old line 20 becomes new line 18 serving Riquier, Saint-Sylvestre
Old lines 89 and 90 become new line 19 serving Vauban, Saint-André-de-la-Roche
Old line 52 becomes new line 20 serving Saint-Laurent-du-Var, parc Phoenix
Old line 56 becomes new line 21 serving Cagnes, Grand-Arenas
**Other lines will also be replaced; details are not yet available.
Last updated July 25, 2019
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