Public transportation in Berlin. Super gut!

It’s been 9 months in Berlin, One thing I like the most about living here is a public transportation system. It’s quite affordable (If you buy monthly pass as I do), easy to use and runs till very late night. Let’s get into it.

1. Price

  • It’s neither too pricey nor crazy affordable. Single trip 2.7 euro is not that cheap, A regular monthly pass 81 euros covering all possible transportation means within the city including bus, tram, U-Bahn and S-Bahn. But, if you live and settle here, I recommend you do an annual subscription for BVG fahrcard (‘fahr’ means ‘a ride’ in German), it can go down to 60.5 euros. In my case, my company helped me to get this Fahrcard, but you can also subscribe yourself on BVG official website.

If you are just visiting, you can also get a day ticket or just one-way single-ride ticket (2.7 euros) – as you can see in the below price table, it’s not that cheap.

You can either buy an original paper ticket at each subway (Ubahn and Sbahn) station (which is my preferred way) or you can buy e-ticket on BVG application (my boyfrined does this, but I am not sure, what if the app has an error and not opening in the right time?)


2. No ticket control

It’s well known that we can get in the subway, bus or tram without needing to tick a ticket or card on the machine. You buy ticket, validate it on the machine (You can see the small yellow machine, that’s all) and free to get on the ride.

As shown in the below photo, all platform is open space, this validating machine is genuinely to count ticket’s valid time, but it doesn’t function as a ticket controlling)
Basically, there’s no system stopping you from free riding. Apparently, there are controllers appearing abruptly inside the train, asking to show the ticket and charing fine if someone did free riding – but I was asked to show tickets only one for my 9 months in the city.

[Berlin U-bahn platform : no ticket control]

Same for the bus, the drivers just stay totally indifferent. In my first months, I get on the bus, I say ‘Hallo’ and show my fahrcard, but they simply just turn their heads toward the window – they just don’t want to bothered.

It is an interesting system indeed, trusing people’s consciousness and courtesy, and seems like it’s working well at least for normal people except homeless or exceptional case – I never took a risk to do free riding, Nor did my boyfriend and my coworkers.

3. Types of public transporation

  • I myself was totally blind about German public transportation system even didn’t know what’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn. In hindsight, this is something I wish I knew before I move to Berlin. So here it is!!
  • U-Bahn ; This is an underground subway. There are 9 U-Bahn lines from U1 to U9. We can easily reach almost everywhere with U-bahn. It has wide coverage, quite fast, pretty much on time. U-Bahn often can be messy, stinky and even dirty. Ang (my bf) and I were shocked that people smoke in the subway platform, drink beer everywhere, either on the platform or in the train. And, they ride with their dogs (not a puppy, but big big big dogs) which can scare some people away. Germans in general love big dogs, literally they bring them everywhere, and the subway is not the exception.
  • S-bahn : Overall, such well mantained and a lot cleaner than U-bahn. Plus, as S-hahn, on the contract to U-bahn, runs above the ground, the view is better. Passing Berlin city center, you’ll enjoying beautiful scenary, rivers and giant monuments of Berlin. So, overall S-hahn will give you much better experience. But, the coverage can be limited compared to U-bahn.
  • Tram : We can see cute trams running on the ground. It supplements the distances b/w U-bahn and S-bahn. Sometimes, despite the short distance b/w two spot,s we have to transfer due to differnet u-bahn/S-bahn lines. Tram can make things easier in thsoe caes.

4. Runing hours

The great thing about the Berlin’s transportation system is that we can always find a way back home even late night without needing to take a taxi or Uber. On the weekend, especially it’s 24 hrs.

  • U-bahn (Underground metro) : On weekdays most U-Bahn lines run from 4 a.m. till 1 a.m. In between, the bus night lines provide public transport. During the day the U-Bahn travels in 5-minute intervals, at night in 10-minute intervals. On the weekend the U-Bahn runs 24 hours, in the daytime mainly in ten-minute intervals, during the night in 15-minute intervals.
  • S-bahn (Strassebahn, it runs above ground) : On weekdays, the S-Bahn starts running around 4.30 a.m. and stops service at 1.30 a.m. Depending on the time of day the trains run in five-, ten- or 20-minute intervals. On weekends, S-Bahn trains run 24 hours, at night in 30 minute intervals.
  • Bus : There is nigh lines during the night everyday

5. Miscellaneous

BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) has a very comprehensive website and also app. It can suggest the fastest way to get your destination, also if you buy 4 or 6 daily ticket package, you can get a slight discount too. I recommend you checking it out.

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