The Berlin U-bahn railway transportation system works on “HONESTY”, that all the passengers have a valid ticket to board the train. Occasionally, you get to see U-bahn agents patrolling the trains requesting to see your ticket. There is a hefty fine for defaulters who board the train without a ticket. I can’t help but wonder if all the Berliners in this train have valid tickets.
Does The Honor System Really Work In Germany?
The only reason I have huge admiration for the public transportation system in Berlin is the honor system. The system is so perfect and is one of the best I have seen in the cities I have been to. Once you get used to the U-bahns, buses, Sbahns and trams, you can’t walk far without seeing one of these four public transport systems, only if you choose to ignore them.
The system is so broad, I wonder if there is a general public transit map with all the diverse transit lines on it. I only had to use the Sbahn/Ubahn map and the tram map. I, however, didn’t have the opportunity to learn and understand the bus system of transportation which is in the big leagues.
The entire system is so advanced that you’ll find boards in all the stops telling you the arrival time of the next transport. From my experience, the system only failed me just once in the month, it’s very reliable.
The first system I understood was the Berlin Ubahn. It is the subway system that often operates above the ground in most vicinity. It is an old reliable system that is easy to use. There are nine lines with 170 stations and 151 km of track.
They don’t operate at night during the weekdays, the system gets shut down at around 1 am and funnily for me, sometime in the past, I finished late from where I went to and couldn’t find a public transit on my way home.
One of the things I like about the Ubahn transport system is that the stops are color coded. I got to understand that Alexandedplatz which can be compared to Times Square due to the enormous connections there, was an aqua colored tile.
Assuming you’re a traveler who perhaps has forgotten the name of where you were supposed to alight or couldn’t see the name on a board or sign, the color codes are there to simplify things for you and ensure that you are in the precise place via the color codes.
The Sbahn surrounds and cuts through the center of the city and a great choice if one wants to quickly move from one end of the city to the next, for instance moving from West Berlin to East Berlin.
There are 15 lines integrated in the Ubahn and the ticketing system over there. If you make use of the S5, S7 or S75 lines cutting through the center of the city, you’ll clearly see visible changes in architecture from East Berlin to West Berlin that still lingers from previous wars.
The Trams operate mainly in old East Berlin. It serves 789 stops, meaning that it stops at the ration of one stop every 459 meters. You can now see why I had a difficult time understanding where everything went.
However, I took out time to learn and understand the major lines around me. If only I had stayed longer, I would have gotten on each of them to see their destination, which is a better way to learn by experience.
There is also the Berlin Bus system – I got to ride in it with the help of some local, it’s quite easy to use. However, getting to know their routes and stops take a lot of time. The ticket prices of the Berlin transportation system is quite affordable at 2.40 € for a single ride.
They also provide monthly, weekly and daily tickets that are of great value to commuters. Everything works with the honor system, there are no electronic machines for checking tickets nor are there gates that restrict movement unless you provide your ticket.
However, if you are honest and work with the honor system, purchase your ticket and ensure that it is validated via the little yellow boxes on the trams/busses else your ticket will be invalid.