- How to use public transit in Berlin (All About Berlin)
- Linie 1 Musical (Wikipedia)
- Linie 1 - Hey Du (YouTube)
- BVG „Is mir egal" (feat. Kazim Akboga) (YouTube)
- Ferry Route Map (BVG)
- BVG Ticket-App (BVG)
- Jelbi App (BVG)
- DB Navigator App
- VBB-Umweltkarte (BVG)
- Deutschlandticket (BVG)
- How to pay (or avoid paying) a BVG fine (All About Berlin)
[0:09] Listeners, Goose and Stephanie, suggested an episode about public transportation in Berlin on our Discord server. That's right. we have a Discord server where you can chat with Jae and with me and with other listeners about our episodes. You can ask questions about Berlin, you can meet some other people who are new in the city or are maybe planning to move here. It's a pretty small group right now, but if you'd like to join us, all you have to do is download Discord or go to discord.com and create a free account, and then go to everyone.berlin/discord to join us.
What It’s Like Using Public Transportation in Berlin
[0:49] So in Episode 4 of this podcast we talked about cycling in Berlin. It's my favorite way of getting around Berlin. And I used to be pretty hardcore about it and basically cycle in any weather and no matter how far the distance. Recently, I think I've softened a little bit. I will take the U-Bahn if it's snowing in March as it is, as I'm recording this. Or if it takes me 45 minutes to go all the way from Wedding to the very south of Berlin, then I will take public transportation. Plus, I also have a dog now and haven't managed to train him to run with me while I cycle. So I've come to appreciate the public transportation system in Berlin. And you're right, Goose and Stephanie, we should talk about it, because it is a little bit complicated. I recently had some friends visit me from another city in Germany, and even they were perplexed when it came to all the different types of public transportation, all the different tickets. So I'll try to give you a good overview in this episode. We'll talk about the different types of public transportation, the ticket zones, the ticket options, what happens if you get caught without a ticket.
[2:07] And so let's start with maybe just some general thoughts of what it's like riding public transportation in Berlin. Public transportation has a long history obviously, there's even a musical called "Linie 1," which is all about the subway Line 1, but a long time ago. There's a beautiful song in it called, "Hey Du," I will link it in the show notes. The system here has many flaws and it is a little bit complicated, but overall I think it is one of the better public transportation systems in the world. You're never really stuck anywhere with no option of: How do I get there? Obviously the further you go out of Berlin or the outskirts, it gets a little bit more difficult or you have to wait longer, but in general it is a really good system. And I always feel like no matter where you go, like from A point to point B within Berlin, it basically always takes you like half an hour. For some reason it's never much shorter than half an hour, but it always rarely feels much longer. And I think that's a pretty good system that gets you from a point A to point B in a big city like this in 30 minutes, more or less.
[3:33] It is quite high frequency. And I've been to other cities in other countries where the subway system and stuff shut down completely during the night, and there's like, you're left with no other options. In Berlin, the subway does close for a few hours at night, but not during weekends. So between Friday night and Sunday, you can use the subway during the night as well. And during weekdays, if you happen to be traveling at nighttime, there's always some alternatives. There's night buses - we'll talk about these different things - but I think it's a pretty good high frequency system where there's like no time where there's zero options. It'll take longer, but you'll always have some options.
[4:25] Something that's maybe a little special, and also compared to other countries, is that we don't have any of these physical barriers. Like when you enter a subway station in London, you have to put your ticket and then the little thing opens and sometimes you see these videos of people hopping over - I don't know if that's possible in London, but I think it is in New York and stuff. In Berlin, there's none of that. There's no barrier to entry, except for a little sign that you need to have a ticket. And basically the system is just based on occasional ticket checks. In my personal experience, they're quite occasional. Like they're not ... they don't happen very often. So in theory, I mean I feel like I haven't gotten checked in like a year. But then again, I don't ride the subway and public transportation that often. But I know that many people, you know, risk it sometimes and basically ride illegally or without a ticket. We'll talk about that later. But it's just good to know that you do need a ticket. You're not allowed to go without a ticket, but you can just hop on and there's nothing stopping you - nothing physical stopping you.
[5:41] The subway lines, it's funny, as you live here for a while, you will learn that different subway lines have different characters and even reputations. The U8, for example, that goes all the way from Neukölln in the south to Wedding and crosses some very interesting places, it goes through Kreuzberg, it has a reputation for stuff happening on that line, like hopefully not dangerous things. We'll talk about safety maybe as well, but it's just, you see people moving their entire apartments in Berlin on the subway, you will sometimes see someone with a ton of stuff. We don't have that many buskers, I think, in Berlin. Sometimes you'll have them. But you do see a lot of characters, and a lot of things go down in these subway lines. And you will learn that some have a reputation for being especially interesting, let's say. I would say all of that kind of makes Berlin what it is. A lot of it is funny, or you look at it and you enjoy the show!
[6:59] Obviously it's still a system that relies on everybody's decency and common sense behavior. I think it's really troubling that a lot of people ignore the no-smoking rules on the platforms. I've never seen anyone smoke in a subway car, I think, but it's quite common to see people smoke on the platforms, even though that's not allowed. Obviously you want to get up if there's an elderly person or someone who's pregnant, entering, just trying to be decent. If you just bought a doner that smells of garlic, maybe wait till you exit the subway car until you start eating it. These kinds of things, I think are common sense. And sometimes I wish there was more of that in Berlin. The trains can get very crowded during rush hour. I don't experience this very often because when I do use the subway, it's not usually right in the morning or right in the afternoon during rush hour, but I've experienced it a few times. It's not as bad as in Japan or some of these countries where ... there's Tokyo where there's these really infamous, really, really, really crowded trains. It's not that bad, but I've definitely been in a situation where it's like: Okay, I'm going to let this train pass because this one is too full, I can't get in. But it doesn't really happen outside of rush hour.
[8:25] Pickpockets are a problem, especially on subways. One thing that I've heard happen to a friend even, is if you're using your phone as everybody is when you're just on the subway, someone will, essentially, just as the doors are closing, grab your phone and run. So that's, I guess, that's not pickpocketing, that's almost like an assault or a theft. I have also another friend also was listening on wired headphones, and then she just noticed the door closing and her music stopped and she didn't even know what was happening. And someone actually managed to take the phone out of her jacket pockets, detach the cable and run away with it. And she didn't even notice until it was too late. So that's definitely a thing.
[9:24] So be aware that you need to be extra careful when you're on the subway, especially when it's very full. But even when it's empty, I would just say, make sure your phone is protected, your purse is protected, those kinds of things. Emergencies, I've never experienced a big emergency, but there are these emergency brakes, obviously, that you can and should use if there's a real emergency going on. And if you do, you will also be able to speak to the driver, at least on subways and the S-Bahn, and we'll talk about these different types of public transport. If it's a bus, obviously just talk to the bus driver. I would just say public transportation is an area of society where I think there's a higher potential for things to go wrong, or for critical situations, or for people molesting other people.
[10:20] I haven't experienced a lot of this personally, but I would just say when you're using public public transportation in Berlin, be an active, proactive user. Don't just zone out and not notice anything! I think, yeah, it's good to really become a part of this system when you're on the subway. The one question that Stephanie had was: What about barrier-free entry? I think we have a long ways to go in Berlin. I found a website that says that 81% of Berlin subway stations can be reached without steps. That may be true, but that leaves one in five subway stations where that you literally can't enter if you are in a wheelchair or if you're pushing a stroller. And even the ones that do have an elevator, many times the elevator is in a really inconvenient place and you have to cross like three streets to even reach the elevator. And then you go down, and it's just, it's not a great system. Honestly, if you rely on a wheelchair or you you have a stroller with you, it's not great.
Who Runs the System?
[11:36] So there's a few abbreviations that you should know. The first one you've probably seen or heard and that's BVG. That's the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe. That's the company that runs almost all of the public transportation in Berlin. I wondered for a long time why it's BVG when there's no "G" in Verkehrsbetriebe. And that's because it used to be Verkehrsaktiengesellschaft. So that's just a little piece of trivia. BVG, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, that's the company that runs all the subways, all the buses, all the trams. And it's interesting, they have - they used to have and they still have - this image of the drivers, especially the bus drivers, but the employees in general, being infamously rude and kind of very, you know, Berlin to the extreme, where they're just rude. And BVG actually managed to kind of take this image and in a very ironic way, use it for their own marketing. It started, I think it started with a song, a YouTube video that they produced a few years ago. I will link it in the show note. It's called, Is mir egal, so: I don't care. Where this ticket checker, this supposed ticket checker, it's really a German singer, goes through the subway and sees all these crazy things that we just talked about happening, and then just singing that he doesn't care.
[13:14] And that was kind of the start of this long-running marketing campaign that they've been doing called Weil wir dich lieben, Because we love you. And yeah, they've done a lot of funny spots and things in the meantime. And so I think it's very successful marketing campaign because they really kind of turned around their image from: Ah, it's just like this organization in the city that runs public transport, to something that's almost kind of popular culture. I think they've started selling merch even, that's based on the cloth on the seats, and things like that. So that's the BVG, you will see it around the city all the time.
[13:59] Then there's DB, that's Deutsche Bahn. That's the company that runs the trains in Germany, the regular train system. And that's not something we'll talk about much on this episode, because it's really about public transportation in Berlin, but DB, Deutsche Bahn, they do run some trains that you can also use to get around Berlin, mainly the S-Bahn, that is kind of like the one type of public transportation that is not run by BVG, but by Deutsche Bahn, and then you can also take some regional and even some long distance trains to get around Berlin in some cases, and so those are run by Deutsche Bahn.
[14:47] And then the other abbreviation that you should know is VBB. That's Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg. That is essentially a local regional transport association that unites Berlin and Brandenburg. So basically, as we'll talk about, you can buy a ticket in Berlin and take a S-Bahn, for example, all the way to Brandenburg and you will still be in this area, in this VBB transport association kind of area. So that's what that is about. And you will see it in some of the tickets that we'll talk about. BVG, DB, VBB, those are the abbreviations and those are kind of the people and the organizations that run the system.
Types of Public Transportation in Berlin
[15:38] So let's talk about the types of public transportation that exist in Berlin. The main one or maybe the most important one is the U-Bahn. That's the subway, U-Bahn, because of Untergrund, it goes underground, and there's a bunch of different lines. I think it's a pretty solid system. And the names are ... the lines are numbered, so it's U1, U2, U8, U9, and so on, and they run from one stop to the other, just like in any city, and there's crossing points where you can switch. So that's the U-Bahn, not much more to say about it. It's not as deep underground as in some other cities, but it's a good system.
[16:33] Then we have buses, as we do in basically any German city. The bus stops, sometimes they have a little covering for bad weather, but not always. But they will always have some type of posting or sign with a yellow H, and that H stands for Haltestelle, and that means that it's a bus stop. You don't need to wave at the bus driver if you want the bus to stop. Basically, if you're standing at the bus stop, the bus should stop, but you do have to press the stop button if you're on the bus and you want to get off at the next stop. And usually these days, the buses do have a reliable screen or announcement that tells you the next stop. But if you have a smartphone, you can also just look at Google Maps and see where you are. I usually prefer that, even over the signs, because I can just see on the map: Is it one more stop, two more stops, three more stops?
[17:38] Then there's Nachtbusse, night buses. Those run during the night and they replace some trams and subways. So, as I mentioned, the subway does close during the night on weekdays, and some trams also don't run during the night. And then there is night buses. They have an N in front of the number, and then they have the number, the line that they replace after it. So N8 would replace the subway line eight and those run less frequently. But if the subway is closed, there's usually a night bus that you can catch that's essentially the same route, so you can get off the same stop that you would during the day.
[18:28] Trams are these little ... I mean, I guess you know what a tram is. It's a little train that goes on the tracks on the street, along with the cars - I'm bad at explaining what a tram is! They sometimes just have a number, sometimes they start with an M, but not all of them. And with those, they stop at every stop, and they stop a lot, like it takes much longer to go by tram than it does by U-Bahn, but you are above ground, and you don't need to press stop to get off there, they will stop at every stop unless you're traveling during the night. So some trams will go during the night and then you do need to press stop if you want to get off the next stop.
[19:17] And so, then to go kind of long distances between some of the bigger train stations, or to go outside of Berlin, you will use either the S-Bahn ... And the S-Bahn is the type of train that is run by Deutsche Bahn, but it's just in Berlin. And most important - there's several lines, but the famous one, the important one - is the S-Bahn Ring. So there's one ring around Berlin and there are several trains going in either direction and you can circle the city. In theory, you could board one train and then just stay on that train the whole day and you would circle the city various times. So that's an effective way to kind of get around the city. And those are run by Deutsche Bahn, but that doesn't matter in terms of the tickets. We'll talk about the tickets, but it is a different type of train. And those, even though they're called S-Bahn, sometimes travel underground. And the U-Bahn sometimes travels above ground. So if you just look at them, like you can't tell if you're on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn by checking if you're above- or underground, that's not a reliable indicator.
[20:39] Then there's regional trains that go through all of Germany, but within Berlin you can also take regional trains. If you're exempt, for example, if you're going from Hauptbahnhof to Ostkreuz, then you could take a regional train. And some long distance trains, the ones that start with IC and ICE, intercity express, most of them you're not allowed to take with a regular ticket, so those are the only ones basically that you can't get on, except for some of them. So that's confusing, but if in doubt, I would just not get on any long distance trains, but you can get on a regional train.
[21:24] And then there's also ferries. I have never taken a ferry within Berlin. Well, I've taken many ferries, but I've never taken a ferry run by the BVG in Berlin. It's very common in Hamburg where you can take public transportation ferries. In Berlin, it's not as common, but there are ferries run by BVG. I will link a page from their website in the show notes, and you can check out with ferries you can take with just a regular BVG ticket.
How to Find Your Route
[21:56] Next, let's talk about how to find your route, or how to find out how to get to your location. My favorite app or method is Google Maps. I know that many people disagree and they don't think that that's the best app. I like it because I can just use it around the world. like basically whenever I travel I just always use Google Maps to find the public transportation route that I want to take. And since I'm used to the app, I never have to learn or download a new app, and I find that it works very well in Berlin. And Google Maps does know about trains that are running late, and even buses that are running late, like it has all the same information and data that the official apps have. So I'm fine just using Google Maps.
[22:48] However, if you want to try the kind of more official apps, BVG actually has a bunch of different apps. The kind of new and hip one is BVG Jelbi. I will link this, of course. And this app lets you plan your routes with public transportation, but it also offers a bunch of the ride-sharing services. So basically if you're signed up for ... and I think we talked about this in another episode as well, if you're signed up for Miles or [Drive] Share Now, or any of those ride-sharing services or bicycle-sharing services or scooter services, this app will show you those vehicles that are within your vicinity. And I think you can even reserve them through the app and you can take them into account for your route, so that would be one benefit. The main reason why it falls short for me a little bit is because it has a lot of them, but not all of them. And for some reason I just prefer, I don't know, opening my favorite services and figuring out if something's close by, and if not, I'll open another app. But maybe I should look into it again.
[24:03] And then there's an older app called BVG Fahrinfo that lets you also figure out the route, but I really don't like the interface in that one. And it lets you buy tickets, but there's a much better app for that now as well, so I really don't know why this app even is around anymore. If you're using BVG Fahrinfo, I would say try Google Maps or Jelbi, it's probably much better. And then DB, Deutsche Bahn, has DB Navigator, but that's basically for planning trips around Germany or even to other countries. You can, in theory, figure out a route within Berlin with that app as well, but it feels clunky. And yeah, I would use DB Navigator if you're going to another city, but not for navigation around Berlin.
[25:01] One thing to note - I think that this was also confusing to my friends who visited recently - is that when you're at the subway station or at the tram station, the bus will basically, the sign and also what's on the display or on the bus, it will show not the direction, it won't say this one's going north and this one's going south or anything like that, it will show the last stop. The confusing thing is that the same line often has alternating last stops. So basically the S2 will sometimes have the last stop in Bernau, sometimes in Blankenburg, sometimes in Buch, those are different stops, but it's always the same direction. And this last stop only really matters if you're going beyond one of those last stops. So, basically, you just need to check: Am I going into the right direction? And is the last stop after the stop that I want to go to? Which, if you're not going very far, if you're not leaving kind of the center of Berlin, it's rarely happening. So mostly you just have to check your line and then which direction are you going to.
[26:24] In the subway stations, the platform will always have a kind of poster with all of the stops, and the ones that are in the opposite direction are grayed out. So that's an easy way to quickly check: Is my stop on this list? And if so, then you're on the right side of the platform. If it's grayed out, you need to go to the other side. For buses and trams, I often just look at at Google Maps and rotate my phone so the compass shows me like: I want to go that way. And then I know which side of the platform I need to be on, or which side of the street.
Ticket Zones and Validity
[27:08] So first of all, there's luckily just one ticket for everything. You don't need a different ticket for the bus than you need for the subway, than you need for the tram. It's just you buy a ticket and you can use all of the different methods of transportation, except for those long distance trains like IC and ICE, inner city express, those are the only exceptions, but otherwise you can use everything that the public transportation system has to offer. So the only thing you really need to worry about is like from where to where, are you traveling? And there are three different zones, Zone A, Zone B and Zone C. Zone A is everything inside of the S-Bahn ring, inside of the Ringbahn. So this ring, and if you ever look at a subway map, you can very clearly see the ring, like you will see right away: Okay, this is the big ring. And so everything that's inside of it is Zone A.
[28:12] Everything that's outside of the ring, but still within Berlin, is Zone B. And then Zone C is everything that's outside of Berlin, but still part of this VBB area. So it's parts of Brandenburg, like the BER airport, for example, if you're going to the airport, you will always need a ticket that covers Zone C. You can go all the way to Potsdam, so different city, that's also still Zone C, Oranienburg, so that's Zone C. And the way you buy the ticket is you either get AB, so that allows you to travel just within those two zones ... There's no ticket for just zone A. The smallest one is basically AB and that's kind of the default. Basically if you're visiting Berlin or if you live here, unless you're living outside of Berlin, AB is all you need.
[29:09] You can get BC if you're commuting from outside of Berlin to within Berlin, but not within the S-Bahn ring, then you would get BC - I think that's a very rare case - or if you're traveling from within Berlin to outside of Berlin or vice versa, you would need ABC. But the default case is really AB. So unless you're going to the airport or going to Potsdam or going to Brandenburg, you just want to get AB.
[29:38] And there's one special case and that is Kurzstrecke, short-distance tickets. That's a way to save some money. So basically if your trip is either three subway stations or less, or six tram stations or less, you can get a Kurzstrecke and then that ticket is a lot cheaper. I have a tram route that I take frequently that's exactly six tram stations. So in that case, I can just get a short-distance, Kurzstrecke Ticket.
Where to Buy Tickets
[30:23] I already mentioned there's a better ... And don't use the BVG Fahrinfo app, it's really bad. There's a specific app now that BVG makes that's just called BVG Tickets, and I find that app quite usable. You can just select the tickets, it's very organized, you can see all the tickets, we will talk about them, but you can see all the tickets that you can get, and you can buy the tickets even without creating an account. So even if you're just visiting Berlin, you can just download the app, buy a ticket, pay via Apple Pay or probably Google Pay, or whatever. You don't have to create an account. So I think that's the easiest. Obviously you'll need to have your phone and it'll need to have battery, but that's the easiest. If you're old school, you can get your ticket at a ticket machine. Ticket machines are on the platform in subway stations, also usually on the platform in S-Bahn stations.
[31:19] You can get tickets in buses with the bus driver, and trams will have a ticket machine within the tram, but trams and buses are the only types of transportation where you can get it when you already entered. For subways and S-Bahn trains, you have to get it before you enter. And the ticket machines, the traditional ticket machines on the stations will still accept cash, if they work, otherwise, I think trams and buses, it's cards only at this point, so no cash. And then if you're buying not just a ticket for an individual ride, but you're getting a monthly ticket, you can also get those at the service points. So both the S-Bahn that's run by DB Deutsche Bahn, and BVG, they run service points in some of the bigger stations, and you can go in person and get a ticket there.
[32:22] Tickets do need to be validated if they're physical. So obviously if you're buying it on the phone, you'll validate it on the phone. Otherwise they need to be validated, depending on the ticket. So if you're just getting a single ticket or you're getting a four-trip ticket, you usually ... It depends, sometimes I think the machine will say this one will come out validated right away, but others you have to validate, and there's these little stamp machines on the platform, they're either red or yellow, and you put in your ticket and it stamps it. So basically if you buy a ticket, take a look at the ticket. If it has the date and time on it already, then it's already validated and it's starting from that time. If it doesn't, if it just says Einzelfahrschein or whatever, but it doesn't have a date or time, you do need to validate it, otherwise you are traveling without a ticket.
Types of Tickets: Single Trip
[33:30] So let's talk about all the different types of tickets. Before I do, I will mention some prices here. I won't mention all the prices, so the easiest would be to just download the BVG Ticket app and look at the prices if you're interested. Obviously, these prices can and will change. Prices go up sometimes and, as we'll see, there's some special things going on right now where the prices are different now than they might be in the future.
[34:02] So single-trip tickets, the most simple case, if you're just going from point A to point B, within zone AB, you just buy a regular ticket, AB it's currently €3. And this ticket is valid for two hours in one direction with as many changes as you want. So basically it gets you from point A to point B, and you can switch trams and subways and buses as often as you want, and you can travel for two hours. But you cannot go back. So you couldn't, for example, go travel for 10 minutes and go to the grocery store and then travel back with the same ticket because only half an hour has passed. That's not allowed. If you get caught, they will check the ticket and they will see that you entered at this station and you're now traveling toward that station. And so it's not valid anymore.
[35:01] Then there's a 4-single-trip ticket. And so that's basically just 4 trips on one ticket, and it's just a little bit cheaper. So basically, if you live in Berlin and you just occasionally travel, it just makes sense to get a 4-single-trip ticket ticket because you will eventually need another ticket and it's just cheaper to get four in advance than to buy individual ones each time. And also if you have an AB ticket already, or a 4-single-trip ticket AB for the zones AB, and you do need to go to the airport or to Brandenburg, you can get an extension ticket that basically adds Zone C, so it may turns it into an ABC ticket. And then there's the short trip tickets that I mentioned. Those are cheaper, they're only €2 and they are also available as a 4-trip ticket. So if you often take short trips, you can get a 4-trip ticket for this Kurzstrecke. So that was the most simple case. Now it'll only get more complicated from here!
Types of Tickets: Day Tickets
[36:12] Next, we have day tickets. So there's a 24-hour ticket that you just buy and then you can ride for 24 hours. There's a FlexTicket that is basically you get 8 x 24 hours within 30 days. So if it's winter and you know: Okay, this month I don't need the subway every day, but I will need it at least eight times, and you want the day ticket because you're traveling several times, then that might be a good idea. By the way, the day ticket, the 24-hour ticket, I think it makes sense iff you're going three times or more in one day, basically, if you're just going to one place and then coming back, individual tickets will be cheaper, but if you're taking three different trips in one day, then the 24-hour ticket, the day ticket, already makes sense. There's also a 24-hour ticket for small groups of five people. So if you're in Berlin for a party or a bachelor party, then that might be a good choice.
Types of Tickets: Season Tickets
[37:21] Then there's different types of season tickets or kind of longer time tickets.There's a 7-day ticket, there's a monthly ticket that you can just get individually and then it's just valid for one month, also, if you're an apprentice, or a student at school, you will get either a free or a cheap monthly ticket. Students, university students get a semester ticket so that there's different types of these kind of monthly tickets or semester tickets that you can buy, or if you belong to one of those groups.
Types of Tickets: Abos (Subscriptions)
[37:59] But then there are Abo's, subscriptions, that you can buy that make sense if you actually live here. And this might be kind of the biggest and most important topic. So the standard one that ... I think in the BVG Ticket app, it says: For real Berliners, so for anyone who lives here and uses public transportation a lot, is called VBB-Umweltkarte. So VBB, as I mentioned in the beginning, is this regional area that includes Brandenburg, and Umwelt because it's good for the environment to use public transportation, and then Karte is the card. So that's the VBB-Umweltkarte. And basically the way it works is just as with the other tickets, you have to pick your zone so you can get it for just AB or for ABC or even for all of VBB. So VBB is actually, the area is larger than ABC, it could include all of Brandenburg. And then the price goes up depending on the zones you pick, and then you can choose if you want to pay either monthly or yearly, and then you get a physical card that you can use to ride as much as you want within the area that you picked.
[39:22] There's some important benefits that this card has that basically none of the other cards have. The most important one, it's transferable. So it's not tied to you personally. You don't need to show ID with this ticket and prove that it's your ticket. You can literally give it to someone else for a day and then they can ride with it, and then you use it the next day. You could share it if you're in a shared apartment, you could share it if you're in a family, you could share it ... So that's one of the huge benefits of this card. You can also bring a dog for free, which normally costs money, and you can bring another person, actually another adult and up to three children every night after 8 p.m. and all day on weekends. So those are some nice perks that this subscription has, and why many Berliners do have it. If you're using it to commute during the week, and then on the weekend maybe you bring your partner along or your flatmate or whatever, all of that you can do on this card.
[40:35] It used to be around, I think €70 per month, and I think that's, that will be the regular price again as well. Currently right now there is a discount if you join now, and it's only €29 for a limited time. And that's because of the Deutschland ticket, which I'll talk about in a second. But normally I think this Umweltkarte, if you buy it for the whole year, is around €70 per month.
[41:10] Then there's another one that's called 10-Uhr-Karte, which is very similar to the VBB-Umweltkarte, but it's only valid after 10 a.m. in the morning and it's a little bit cheaper that way. So basically you can't use it if you have a regular job where you need to commute in the morning. But if you don't have that and you always get up late, then you can save a bit of money using this 10-Uhr-Karte. I think it's a way for them to take off pressure of the morning hours. Basically they're trying to give people a discount to buy this ticket so that they don't use public transportation early in the morning.
[41:51] Then there's one for people that are older than 65, it's called VBB-Abo 65 plus. And that one includes all of Berlin and Brandenburg - apparently people that are in the retirement age have time to take trips to Brandenburg and that's why that's included - I don't know if that was the thinking there.
[42:12] And there's a Firmenticket. I think the Firmenticket is more or less the same as the VBB-Umweltkarte, but your employer buys it for you. So basically, if you're a company you can get a VBB-Umweltkarte or the equivalent for your employees. And it's a little bit cheaper that way I think, I'm not a hundred percent sure on the pricing there, but basically, if your employee or buys tickets for the employees, then it's called Firmenticket.
Types of Tickets: Deutschlandticket[42:51] So then there's the Deutschlandticket and that is something very new. In fact, it doesn't exist yet, or it's not valid yet. It will start in May of this year and it is the successor of the €9 ticket. So between June and August of 2022, we had this €9 ticket and it was a basically a result of the war that Russia started against Ukraine, where everything started getting more expensive, especially gas prices went up, and things like that. And then there was some political thing where the gas prices were capped in price for a little while for us to make it more affordable to ride your car if you need to, and that was something that the political party, FDP, kind of pushed through. And then the Greens, the Grünen, the Green Party, they basically pushed for an equivalent or something for people that use public transportation.
[44:04] And so for three months, we had this €9 ticket that was incredible because it was €9 per month and you could use all local public transportation including regional trains within all of Germany. And it was quite a hype and people took trips all over Germany with these slow trains that were included in the ticket. so it led to a lot of additional freedom and energy, and people just started to travel on this really affordable ticket. Then that ticket ended, and basically the government promised that there would be some kind of successor. And this successor is now almost there and it's called Deutschlandticket, and it's supposed to be a long-term thing, apparently, starting May 1st, 2023. You can already buy it, but you can start using it in May, and it will be €49 per month, at least at first. They said they will adjust it for inflation as time goes on, but for now it'll be €49 per month.
[45:14] It's a subscription, so basically you buy it, it renews every month, you can cancel every month. And just like the €9 ticket, you can use all public transportation within Germany, including regional trains and including all the BVG stuff within Berlin, but not the long distance trains that I mentioned. So not Intercity Express or Intercity, those aren't included. So you can't take a very quick trip to Hamburg on this Deutschland ticket, but you could get on local train and go to Hamburg from Berlin, but that will take you a long time. So basically it's similar to the €9 ticket. It's also similar to the VBB-Umweltkarte in that you can use all of the public transportation within Berlin. And you will say now: "Hey, the VBB-Umweltkarte you mentioned was around €70. Why should I get that, if the Deutschland ticket lets me use all public transportation in all of Germany, and it's cheaper? Great question!
[46:28] Basically the downsides of the Deutschland ticket are that it's not transferable.So remember the VBB-Umweltkarte, you can literally just hand to someone else. The Deutschland ticket is just for you personally. You can't give it to anybody else, and you can also not bring anybody on nights and weekends as you can with the VBB-Umweltkarte. So depending on your situation, the VBB-Umweltkarte might still be the better deal because you can give it to other people, you can bring other people, you can bring your children and so on.
[47:03] Personally, if you want to know my opinion, I think the Deutschlandticket, it's better that we have it, than not having it, but it's really like this €49 price is a little bit of ... It's a weird price because it's too expensive for people who are actually really struggling to afford public transportation, and I think getting around at least your own city should should somewhat be of a right or a privilege at least, that we grant everybody, and so it should be cheap enough that anybody is able to visit a friend that lives on the other side of Berlin or able to go to IKEA or or whatever it may be.
[47:48] And it's also too expensive for people like me who, like I can afford it, but I don't travel on public transportation that much that even €49 really makes sense. And so it's really just, I don't know, I guess it's a good discount for people who need something like this, but it's not enough of an incentive. The €9 ticket, it was just a no-brainer. Like everybody got the €9 ticket because, come on, like it's three subway rides basically. Obviously you're gonna get the €9 ticket. And then since you have it, maybe you will take a train trip to Brandenburg instead of taking the car. It was a really good incentive to try these things. €49, I think is too high, but that's just my personal opinion.
Types of Tickets: Tourist Tickets[48:34] Okay, going on with our tickets - we're almost done - we also have several types of tickets aimed especially at tourists: tourist tickets. It will say in the BVG Ticket app, you will see: Tourist tickets. There's different ones. You can get them for different timeframes between two and six days or even more. Basically, they are like a day ticket or a week ticket plus discounts on sightseeing stuff. So they will give you discounts to specific museums and specific things, and there's different tourist tickets that include different things. One's called Berlin Welcome Card, there's one that's called Berlin City Tour Card, there's one that's called Easy City Pass Berlin. I've never really used any of this. If you're coming to Berlin for a limited time and you specifically want to do a lot of sightseeing and want to see a lot of museums, I would Google these and see what's included, and see if it makes sense. But if you live here, those don't really make much sense, I think.
Children[49:43] Children need a ticket. I think there's a reduced ticket for children, but if the child is under six years old, it's free. So basically all tickets, no matter what the ticket is that you have, if you bring a child that's under six years old, it travels for free. Afterwards you need a reduced ticket, I think, up until the age of 15.
Bringing Other People[50:12] Bringing other people, we already talked about. If you have the VBB-Umweltkarte, or actually most other weekly, monthly or yearly tickets - so check the specific ticket that you're interested in - but most of these tickets let you bring at least one other person after 8 p.m until 3 a.m. the next day on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, and on public holidays.
Dogs[50:40] Bringing a dog also depends on the ticket. If it's just a regular ticket, you need to buy a reduced ... or there's a special dog ticket, I think, that you need to get. If you have the VBB-Umweltkarte or the Deutschland ticket, you can bring a dog with you in Berlin, and all of this if the dog is bigger than a cat and can't go in a closed container. If it's in a closed container, it basically counts as a suitcase, but if it's bigger than that, you need to have it on a leash, and theoretically they must wear a muzzle. I never see dogs with a muzzle on public transport, and I don't think you will get into much trouble if your dog is not on a muzzle, unless obviously they have a bit of a biting problem! But otherwise, yeah, you don't have to to worry. And if it's a guide dog, then obviously you don't need to pay for a ticket.
Bicycles[51:46] Bicycles are a little bit tricky as well. You do need a bicycle ticket, except for some of the special tickets - like students I don't think need to get a bicycle ticket - but almost everybody else needs to get a bicycle ticket if you want to bring your bicycle. You can only bring your bicycle on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn and on two night buses: the N1 and the N9. Any other tram or bus, you can't take your bicycle. So that's not great. If you're stuck in the rain, you can only use the S-Bahn or U-Bahn, but you can't take a bus. And even on the U-Bahn, you need to be a little bit careful. You are not supposed to bring it in the first carriage, and then also some of the other carriages might have a sign that says: No bicycle. So you need to check which carriage you can take your bike in. And I think the rule also says that if it's really full, then you have to wait for the next one, like people have priority. I guess that makes sense.
Getting Caught Without a Ticket[52:52] So as I mentioned in the beginning, you, there's no physical barriers, but you do need to get a ticket. If you're getting caught without a ticket, you need to pay a fine. And I think it's currently €60 and there's no way of getting around that. The only way that you can get around that is if you actually do have a valid ticket, you just didn't bring it with you. If you have a personalized ticket, for example, and you just left it at home, then you can go to the service station later, or I think you can do it online, and you pay a reduced fee of €7. But having a ticket that's unstamped, for example, or anything like that, does not count. So if you don't have a ticket, they will ask for your ID and they will write down all of your information and you will get an invoice or ticket in the mail. If you don't have any ID on you, they will actually ask you to leave the train with them and call the police, and then the police identifies your identity, figures out your identification, I don't know how it works exactly, but you sometimes see this happening where you go by a subway station and there's someone, and then the police comes and they take identification.
[54:11] So it's €60 every time that you get caught, and the really troublesome thing that is really problematic, I think, is that it's technically a criminal offense to not ride with a ticket. And I think the way it goes is that the first three times, they won't bring charges, basically, you will just have to pay the €60 and that's it. But if you get caught a fourth time, they will bring charges, and it can actually go on your record. And in some cases, if you're not able to pay the fines, I think some people go to jail for a few days for having ridden without a ticket, which is just insane, that people who can't afford a ticket in some cases end up going to jail because they couldn't afford a ticket. It's just ridiculous.
[55:15] There's actually an NGO that bails these people out, because the only reason you would need to go to jail is if you can't pay the fine, and so this NGO just pays people's fines and gets them out of jail. That's a little bit fucked up, that whole system. And honestly, we should just make it cheap enough, at least for people who can't afford it. I mean, really, if you can't afford a subway ticket, you should just be able to go for free. But that's my personal opinion. It's insane to me that we're putting people in jail just because they were trying to get around their own city and couldn't afford a ticket. But let's not close on that depressing thought.
If You're New in Berlin…[55:58] Let me give you a few last thoughts if you're new in Berlin. I would say the subway is very efficient, obviously, it's probably the quickest way to get from point A to point B, but you don't really get to see much of Berlin. Some of the subway lines go over ground for a little bit, but not really, not very much. And you don't ... like you start thinking in these subway lines and subway stations, but you don't really get a good grasp on the city, actually, and how the city works, and how the city is laid out.
[56:36] And so I would really suggest that you try to cycle, if and when you can. Cycling really teaches you where things are, and which roads go where. And cycling is really the better way to learn about the city. And if you can't cycle or you don't want to cycle, I would say: Take buses, sometimes, take trams. They are slower, but they give you a better sense of the city. You get to see more and you get to understand a little bit more where things are. So don't get stuck underground. Try to use some of the overground methods of transportation so you get to see and enjoy Berlin.