how NOT to be “that guy” when using Berlin’s public transportation system

So, you have made it to the great hipster yuppie multicultural paradise that is Berlin. Congratulations and welcome!  As you will soon find out, one of the great benefits of this fine city is the elaborate (and punctual) public transportation system.  Let me briefly brief you on a few details that will help you to better fit in.

First of all, I know the whole scene is new and exciting and you want to take everything in, but please remember that the majority of us are not on vacation.  We have places to (punctually) be.  You and your dawdling self are holding up traffic.  When using the escalators, stairs, etc. stand to the right side if you are just going to stand there and/or walk really slowly.  The left hand side is for those with a little more pep in their step.  The same concept is applied when driving: the right lane is used for slower moving traffic and the left lane is for passing (although it seems as if half the people on road do not understand this concept, but that is a whole different can of worms).

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Be aware that your backpack is big.  It will hit other people when standing in the train. Take it off and put it between your legs.  It also does not belong on the seat unless the train is relatively empty.  The people who worked the whole day want to sit down.  You would, too.

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Now, let’s talk about tickets.  The whole train/subway system is based on trust and personal responsibility.  The tickets are bought ahead of time and you are responsible for making sure they are stamped.  If there is a controller, which there often are, and you did not buy a ticket or you do not stamp said ticket, you WILL BE CHARGED 60 EUROS!  Buy a ticket!   Stamp your ticket!   The only exception is on the bus where you will purchase your ticket directly from the driver.

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There are a few different categories of tickets.  Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and short-trip.  You probably don’t need a yearly or monthly ticket, so I will skip over those. However, a weekly ticket might just be what you are looking for depending on how long you are staying.  If you are planning on riding the train more than 3 times in one day, you should at least get a day ticket.  If you are staying longer, get a week ticket.  You can ride anywhere within the AB, BC or the ABC areas – depending on which type of ticket you buy. AB/ABC refers to where you are in the city.  A is the city center, inside the ring.  B is outside of the ring and C is outside of the city.  Unless you are making a special trip, for example to Potsdam, you are probably travelling within the AB ticket region.

Rates for 2 Hour Tickets (2016)
Tariff AB: 2.70; reduced: 1.70 Euros
Tariff BC: 3.00; reduced: 2.10 Euro
Tariff ABC: 3.30; reduced: 2.40 Euros

Rates for Day Ticket
Tariff AB: 7 Euros; reduced 4.70 Euros
Tariff BC: 7.30 Euros; reduced 5.10 Euros
Tariff ABC: 7.60 Euros; reduced 5.30 Euros

Rates for Weekly Ticket
30 Euros

Rates for Short trip (Kurzstrecke)
 1.70 Euros (maximum 3 train stops with the subway, 6 stops with the tram or bus)

*Children’s tickets are considered reduced fare.

There are also special tourist cards.  They are called Berlin Cards.  If you like museums and plan to stay in the more touristy areas, this is a great option as you get discounts and a train ticket.  The price is dependent on the number of days you are purchasing for (maximum 6). If you are here more for the parks/clubs/people you can stick with a regular week/day ticket.

Finally there are small group tickets.  The group can have up to 5 people.  They are good for the day.  This is a really great option if you happen to be travelling in a group!

Rates for Small Group Day Tickets

Tariff AB: 17.30 Euros
Tariff BC: 17.60 Euros
Tariff ABC: 17.80 Euros

So, welcome again.  Ignore the drunk guy snoring on the train, help the women carrying the stroller up the stairs, and enjoy the prompt, convenient public transportation that Berlin has to offer.

Happy Travels!

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8 thoughts on “how NOT to be “that guy” when using Berlin’s public transportation system

    1. I had realized that I had been in Berlin too long when I was in the western part of Germany and the train was late (like 2 minutes) and I got irritated. It’s funny because where I lived before had 1 bus and it was not uncommon for it to be 15-20 minutes late. Strange world.

  1. I wish I had your guidance before I went to Germany. My husband and I had absolutely NO clue what we were doing taking trains on “adventures”. This included ending up in the wrong “Rotenburg” and getting kicked off a train because we didn’t have a ticket (or the right kind?). So embarrassing. Good times. 😉

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