How good is public transportation in Germany?

Hello reader. This blog is aimed to share my genuine experience working and living in Germany. In this particular blog post I will share my experience on how good and how punctual public transportation is in Germany which might also be the reason for why Germans are obsessed with punctuality.

If you are new to this blog my name is Chandrasen, I’m an Indian immigrant based in Germany, I am also the co-founder of Destination Germany. In this blog I share my experience on working and living in Germany.

Before I have come to Germany I did learn about the fact that almost all cities in Europe has really good public transportation infrastructure. But after me coming to Germany and experiencing it first hand it was really astonishing.

According to what I have noticed by living in Germany for 7 years most of the towns/ cities has city bus and trams for travelling within a city. For travelling intercity there are different options such as S-bhan (Strassebhan), RE (Regional Express trains), RB (Regional Bhan trains). To travel long distances there are IC (Inter City trains) and ICE (Inter City Express trains). ICEs are also the bullet trains of Germany and sometimes IC and ICE also travel to neighbouring countries.

Also, what I have noticed is that if you go to big cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich or Stuttgart you see an additional mode of local transportation which is U-Bhans (underground trains).

Before I moved to Germany I have lived in India for 21 years. In India the main mode of public transportation in majority of the cities are local city bus and to travel intercity it is again long distance buses or trains (with very limited connectivity). In bus and trains based on people’s affordability for luxury there are different classes available. Having very limited options of public transportation in India when I saw so many options of public transportation in Germany it was quite an overwhelming experience for me at lest in the early days.

The next thing which was very surprising for me is the punctuality and the reliability of all these different public transportations. As an example I would like to share one mode of city public transportation which are buses in Berlin, Germany. It’s stated in wikipedia that there are 2634 bus stops in Berlin alone which has 149 day time bus routes with a total route length of 1675kms. In each and every stop you could able see a timetable as shown in the below picture. Majority of the times buses will be on time at the specified stops. Ofcourse in the peak times where there will be lot of traffic jams you should expect them not arriving on the specified times but in general they are super reliable.

An example of bus no. 148 weekly schedule at a particular bus station

As busses are bound to traffic jams at peak hours, other modes of transportation such as trams, S-Bhans, RE, RB, IC and ICEs are even more reliable. According to this statista report 95.7 percent of trains arrived punctually with a delay of not more than 5.59 minutes which is super impressive according to me.

I personally feel that the high level of punctuality of public transportation is maybe because of Germans obsessiveness to be punctual every-time. My last blog post was exactly on this topic. If you are curious to know more about Germans and their punctuality check out my last blog post here.

With so many options to travel within a city and inter city the next obvious question that you might get is how the hec* do I know what is the best connection to take when I want to travel from point A to point B? I would say this is a very valid question. For digital native people there are plenty of apps available to show you what exact connections to take when you want to travel from point A to point B. My goto app is called DB Navigator where you get the option to enter your Start and End destination and as a result you will be shown the best available combination of transportations that you could take in order to reach your destination. The example screenshot can be seen below.

Screenshot of DB navigator app itinerary which shows the details of different connections to take in order to go from point A to point B

For the non digital native people the infrastructure within Germany is build such a way that even if someone do not have a smart phone could be able to travel with ease from point A to point B. For example in each and every bus or tram or train stops you could able to see the time table of the specific bus or tram or train. When you are travelling in one mode of transportation say bus in each and every stop you get to see the connecting trains, bus and trams which will be displayed on the information screen inside the bus for the passengers. And finally in every main railway station there will be an information desk where you can speak with a person who can guid you to take the right connections to your destination.

With such a good public transportation infrastructure in Germany until today I never really felt the need of owning a car for my personal use. I would argue that if you are living in a medium sized town or a big city it is defiantly a matter of luxury to own a car in Germany. But if you are living in a relatively small town or a village then you might definitely feel the need to have a car as the frequency of public transportation is limited in small towns and villages.

To also give you some perspective on the cost of using public transportation, I currently live in Berlin and I have a yearly transportation card. I pay Eur 64 per month which lets me travel within Berlin city unlimited number of times in a specific month. Which is damn cheap when compared to owning or leasing a car for personal use. For example lets say if I want to lease VW Golf for 48months it can easily cost upto Eur 400 per month. Plus on top of that there will be fuel costs. This means owning or leasing a car can be almost 7-8x costlier than using world class public transportation system.

This is how an yearly public transportation subscription card looks like

Let’s say for some reason I do not want to use public transportation and would like to rent a car. It is also quite easy to do in Germany if I have a drivers license (btw getting a German license is one h*** of a job and I think this deserves one more blog post). There are plenty of car rental companies out there in Germany from where I can rent the car for couple of days or weeks as per my requirements.

To summarise, public transportation in Germany and also many other European countries is really amazing. After I personally having been experienced this first hand I can tell you that anyone can travel anywhere from point A to point B with ease and without much of an hassle. In fact my most preferred way of transportation in Germany is public transportation because of three main reason. 1. cost (travelling in public transport is almost 10 times cheaper than owning a very basic car) 2. while I travel I read books, which means no time is wasted in driving a car 3. not having to care about parking the car in crowded cities like Berlin.

If you would like to experience traveling in public transportation in Germany or If you ever dreamt of working and living in Germany then this is the right time for you to take next step to explore different opportunities that Germany has to provide you so that you can work and live in Germany.

To just give you a bit of background, Germany lacks a lot of technically skilled people. To be exact in the coming years Germany has a demand for around 700,000 people with technical skills. In order to fill this gap in March 2020 it has also liberalised lot of rules and passed an act called Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) which makes it easier to get a visa for broad range of people living in non-EU countries.

I truly believe that we all have one life to live and when we get the opportunity we should definitely take it and put in a little bit extra effort (which can be learning a bit of German language, knowing more about German culture etc.) to explore how it feels to work and live in a foreign country and completely different culture.

If you are someone who also believe in the same then we are here to help you make your dream come true by providing you the opportunity to explore different job openings at many top German employers, supporting you in visa topics and integration topics.

Go to out website to know more about us. Once you know who we are what we do check our current job openings. If you find the one that fits your profile then go ahead and apply for that position.

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