Germany has an outstanding public transportation system. It’s easy, fast, economical and clean. I often take the train with my family on trips. My husband usually has our trips already planned out. This includes purchasing the tickets and having a list of trains and buses we need to take to get to our destination. Today, I took it alone to meet a friend for lunch at another town.
I walked to the S-Bahn or Schnellbahn in our town of Herrenberg and began my adventure. I was a little worried that I would get lost or hop on the wrong train. What if I needed to get on the U-Bahn? S-Bahn, U-Bahn, what’s the difference? I remember the little tip for us Americans to differentiate the two:
- S = Suburban
- U = Underground.
I quickly found out that getting from one town to another town was easier than I thought.
First, I needed to find the track for the train that will take me to where I want to go. I headed to track 2. This will take me to Vaihingen. There’s a ticket machine in the middle of the divider where people usually wait. It offers options for different languages. There’s one for English which is great. It asks for the starting place and destination. Then it gives several choices such as: a single day ticket which takes you there and back on that day (this also allows you to take the buses). A one way ticket (usually good for 3 hours) and a group ticket (for families). Prices differ for adults and children. After buying a single-day adult ticket, all I had to do was wait and make sure I get on the right train. The S-Bahn lines are usually marked with the “S” and then a number. I needed to board the S1. The train arrived and I boarded. Seven stops later, I was in Vaihingen. Easy breezy! I feel like a kindergartener that just got through the first day of school.😁
For more info: http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/stadt.shtml#sbahn
In the United States, taking the train is not as common as in Europe. Americans still prefer to drive (except in cities like NYC or Chicago where it’s more convenient to use public transportation). I lived in California for most of my life and never took the train. The closest I got to riding one, was on a trolley in San Diego and San Francisco. The only time I took a train was during a visit to Portland, Oregon. Most people in California drive. We take our cars to stores which are five minutes away from our houses. A 30 minute to 1 hour drive to get somewhere is considered a short drive. The public transit system is definitely more appreciated in Europe.
In Germany, people prefer to take advantage of the efficient transportation system. The trains are clean and most commuters are considerate. They avoid being loud or obnoxious. During family trips, I usually use this time to catch up on my reading. The only exception to the usual silence on the train is during fest and game season. Nobody seems to mind because people coming back from the fest or games actually make the ride fun and interesting with their songs and laughter.
Today, I appreciate the excellent transportation system available to us. This includes the colorful trains that stop through our town. Any day I don’t have to drive and get stuck in traffic is a great day!