06.06.2024

What you should know about public transportation in Germany

Public transportation in Germany is a key component of daily life for both locals and tourists. Its significance lies in its convenience, efficiency, and contribution to sustainable urban development. This article will explore the main aspects of public transportation in Germany and provide essential information for those planning to use this convenient and environmentally friendly mode of transport.

Types of Public Transportation in Germany

Germany boasts a well-developed public transportation network that includes trams, buses, subways, trolleybuses, as well as regional and urban trains.

Trams

The tram system in Germany is widespread in cities and is used for efficient and convenient urban travel. Trams typically run on dedicated lines, and their route network usually covers central areas and suburbs. They are eco-friendly and effective means of transport, helping to alleviate traffic congestion in cities.

Buses

Buses in Germany play a crucial role in ensuring transport accessibility for the local population. This type of transport is especially important for connecting areas that might not have tram or metro lines. Buses often have an extensive route network, covering both central and peripheral areas of cities.

Metro (U-Bahn) and Urban Trains (S-Bahn)

Metros exist in many large German cities and are a fast and efficient means of mass transit. They are extensive, covering key city areas and providing quick and reliable transportation for passengers. Metros and urban trains operate in major German cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Metros usually run underground, while S-Bahn operates above ground, although they can sometimes intersect. These two types of transport offer fast and convenient connections between different city areas.

Trolleybuses

Trolleybuses are another type of electric transport used in Germany. They are connected to overhead electric wires, providing efficiency and environmental friendliness. Trolleybus routes mainly run through urban areas and help to alleviate congestion on other types of public transport in high-passenger-activity areas.

Regional and Urban Trains

Regional and urban trains are an important means of transport for covering large distances between cities and their surroundings. These trains offer comfortable and fast connections, and their network spans various regions of Germany. They are especially useful for tourists who want to visit different cities and scenic places across the country.

If you plan to travel to Germany, it is recommended to learn which cities to start your acquaintance with the country: Top 5 Cities in Germany to Visit.

How to Find Current Schedules and Transport Routes?

Thanks to various information sources and technological solutions, obtaining information about the current public transport schedule is not an issue today.

Websites of Transport Companies and Useful Apps:

Types of Tickets

There are many types of public transport tickets in Germany, which can be divided into two main categories:

1. Single-Trip Tickets:
  • Single Ticket: Valid for a certain time (usually 1-2 hours) and allows unlimited transfers within that time.

  • Kurzstrecke Ticket: For short trips (up to 3-6 stops) at a fixed price.

  • Day Ticket (Tageskarte): Valid for one day (usually from 00:00 to 24:00) and allows unlimited trips within that day.

2. Subscriptions:

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  • Weekly Pass (Wochenkarte): Valid for a week (usually from Monday to Sunday) and allows unlimited trips within that week.

  • Monthly Pass (Monatskarte): Valid for one month (usually from the 1st to the 31st) and allows unlimited trips within that month.

  • Annual Pass (Jahreskarte): Valid for one year (usually from January 1 to December 31) and allows unlimited trips within that year.

How to buy and validate a ticket?

Buying and validating tickets in German public transport may vary depending on the city and type of transport, but the general approach remains similar.

Where to Buy a Ticket?

  • Machines: Most public transport stations and stops are equipped with ticket machines. They accept cash, coins, or bank cards. Follow the on-screen instructions, choose the appropriate ticket type, and pay.

  • Mobile Apps and Online: Many cities offer mobile apps where you can buy electronic tickets. Use the official websites of local transport companies or smartphone apps described earlier.

  • Vehicle Drivers: This method is advised only in extreme cases, as it is not available for all types of transport.

How to Validate a Ticket?

The process depends on the format of your ticket, whether it is a paper ticket bought from a driver or a special machine, or an electronic ticket:

  • Paper Tickets: Should be validated in the appropriate turnstiles upon entering the metro or directly inside the transport.

  • Electronic Tickets: Should be activated in the app or on the website where it was purchased. Usually, this involves a separate option within the ticket or selecting the station and departure time before purchase.

Remember that an unvalidated or improperly validated ticket can result in a fine. Always check the rules and instructions of local public transport for the correct use of tickets.

Are There Penalties for Riding Without a Ticket?

Indeed, riding without a ticket can become quite a problem for a passenger.

Depending on the region and type of public transport, the fine amount can vary. However, it is not advisable to expect a small fine.

In addition to the fine, this violation may be considered a breach of Article 265a of the German Criminal Code: deliberate evasion of payment for a knowingly chargeable service. Therefore, it is definitely not worth risking, especially if you are from another country.

In most cases, the fine starts at 60 euros. The amount depends on the type of transport and whether it is the first violation for the person or a repeated one.

What is the Cost of Public Transport in Germany?

The cost of public transport in Germany depends on the city, type of transport, and ticket type. However, we can provide general information on the cost of travel:

  • Single Ticket: Costs from 2 to 4 euros for short distances or up to 10 euros or more for longer distances.

  • Day Pass: Costs from 5 to 10 euros depending on the city.

  • Weekly Passes: Can range from 20 to 40 euros.

  • Monthly Passes: Can vary from 70 to 100 euros or more.

  • Annual Pass: Costs from 850 euros.

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Pay special attention to the special ticket for public transport in Germany - the Deutschland-Ticket (D-Ticket).

The D-Ticket is a subscription for public transport valid throughout Germany. It costs 49 euros per month and gives you access to all types of public transport, including:

  • Local and Regional Trains (RB, RE, S-Bahn)

  • Buses

  • Trams

  • Metros

  • Ferries

The D-Ticket is the successor to the 9-Euro-Ticket, which was available in the summer of 2022. It was a pilot project by the German government aimed at promoting public transport and supporting citizens in light of rising inflation.

Public Transportation Etiquette

Certain rules apply in German public transport to ensure the comfort and safety of all passengers. These rules may differ depending on the type of transport, but the general principles include:

  • Priority for the Disabled and Elderly: In German public transport, there are special seats for disabled and elderly passengers. Be prepared to give up these seats if needed.

  • Do Not Block the Doors: Maintain a distance from the vehicle doors to not obstruct other passengers' entry and exit.

  • Turn Off Music Devices: Use headphones for listening to music and refrain from loud conversations to not disturb others.

  • Do Not Litter: Dispose of all trash in designated bins. If bins are absent inside the transport, take the trash with you and dispose of it at your stop.

  • Purchase and Validate Tickets: Avoid riding without a ticket.

  • Observe Etiquette: Be considerate of other passengers, avoid unpleasant smells, and maintain comfort in public transport.

  • Prepare to Exit in Advance: Indicate your intention to exit well in advance.

  • Refrain from Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in public transport, including stations and stops.

Following these rules helps create a safe and pleasant environment for all passengers in German public transport.

Public transportation in Germany is very popular among both locals and visitors due to its high speed, accessibility of connections, and favorable pricing policy. The government promotes the use of public transport by offering special seasonal deals and providing discounts for students and vulnerable populations.

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