Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ten Rules on German Bus Travel

I'm a frequent rider of German 'local' buses....so I kind know the general expectations.  This is my list of ten rules or expectations on the system.

1.  German buses run on a schedule, and it's always on-line and available.  Other than in snow or ice conditions....the buses RUN almost always on-time.

2.  You can buy tickets from the driver, but it's generally ten-percent higher.  Either buy them from the machine (daily ticket or a one-way ticket), or buy them via a nearby business front (your local post office or grocery).

3.  That first real row on the bus (eight seats) is usually reserved in some fashion for older retirees.  So, avoid them at all cost.

4.  You aren't supposed to drink or eat on a bus....so when you do....and you see dirty looks from the passengers, thats why they seem to be frustrated with you.

5.  If the last bus from town is at 11:58PM.....and you show up at the station at 11:59PM....you are screwed, and best have the money for a taxi.

6.  Buses from 0700 to 0830, and 1300 to 1500....typically are full of school kids and overflowing.  If standing for thirty minutes bothers you.....you'd best find another time to travel on buses.

7.  That one-way ticket you buy?  It's good from the minute you get on...until you get to the final destination (even if it takes 90 minutes).  You must punch the ticket with the machine near each entrance, and keep the ticket in case a conductor boards to exam tickets.  If the trip requires three bus changes....no big deal.  Trying to use the one-way ticket to hit three stop-off's during the morning?  It won't work and is illegal.  An all-day ticket?  If you intend to spend more than six hours in the city and travel around....it's the best deal but generally costs 6.20 Euro.

8.  Note, that an all-day ticket is for a particular local zone.  If you cross that zone into another zone....your 6.20 payment is not enough, and a conductor who catches you in the second zone will fine you (expect it to be a minimum of twenty Euro).

9.  Bus strikes do occur....rarely.  Usually....it's from o-dark-thirty in the morning and covers at least half the day.  Strikes never start at 1PM or the late afternoon.

10.  There is such a thing as a nine-hour bus pass (not just for one day but for an entire month)....which tends to cost twenty-percent less.  But, it's not effective until after 9AM, which means it fits better for a shopper or retiree....than a worker depending on bus usage.

Finally, a note about heat in the winter and cooling in the winter.  Sadly, most buses are overly warm in the winter-time and likely near 85 to 90 degrees (my humble experience).  So you might not want to overdress for winter travel, and have layers to remove if necessary.  For summer periods.....they will say most buses are air-conditioned....this usually means they can handle up to 85 degrees.  Anything beyond that.....means the bus is HOT and you will feel miserable after a thirty minute ride....thus requiring the cool refreshing feeling of a beer.

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