Zone B, to be exact. And that’s exactly what the duck and I want to write about today. Do you remember how we briefly mentioned the zone thing waaaay back when we still were the kind of people/ducks/youknowwhatimean who got lost on their way to Ikea? Well, we are proud to announce that we have graduated to getting lost trying to get from the suburban train platform to the regional train platform at the very. Same. Station. Go us! But that is not the kind of being lost that this post is about. Instead, we want to focus on how you sometimes feel lost when you first try to make sense of the public transit system in a new city (at least the duck and I do. Every time).
In the last few months (during a time that brought you such gems as “yeah, let’s write about salad, that’s, like, totally interesting – newsworthy, even!“) the duck and I could add quite a few trips to Brandenburg to the definitely real book of all our train journeys (for those who are not familiar with German geography: Berlin is one of three city-states out of the 16 German federal states and as such it is located right in the middle of Brandenburg, one of the 13 area states). Since the duck and I aren’t very keen on accidentally dodging the fare, we had to do some research before we moved here, so that now we can pretend to be experts on zones and fares and all that stuff!
Look, here’s a picture of the duck studying the zone map, totally understanding what it means!
If you are not as good as the duck is at confidently posing for photos even though you are actually not sure what exactly you are looking at, do read on for an attempt at at least some kind of an explanation of the zone thing:
The Berlin ABCs
Even though the fare zones are a part of collective knowledge in Berlin (the duck and I are almost certain that just being born in Berlin means that you have this knowledge implanted in your brain long before you can say Pfannkuchen or Wegbier), it’s not always completely clear what those letters mean when you do not yet have the experience or the confidence to proclaim that “ich bin ein Berliner”, presumably because this is the first time you are visiting this iconic city. Now let’s stop beating around the bush, or, as Germans say, speaking around the hot mash, and finally get to that awaited explanation: When it comes to public transportation, the Berlin area is divided into three zones. As we mentioned before, unlike the Tokyo system where you pretty much need to pay an extra fare each time you switch providers, in Berlin there are just two public transport providers and one ticket covers both. However, it might still matter where you are going, as the city center (the inner circle in the photo with the duck) counts as zone A, the remaining Berlin area as zone B, and the surrounding areas outside Berlin are zone C. Most people are okay with just a regular AB ticket, unless they have to cross city lines on a regular basis. That is why most tickets you can buy come as AB by default and, if you have a journey planned to, say, Potsdam you just buy an extension ticket that adds another zone to your existing ticket (Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg and is located right next to Berlin. Despite being its own city, Potsdam does count as zone C of the Berlin area. However, Potsdam also has its own fare zones. But that’s too much to discuss here – check this if you’d like to learn more). Still a bit confusing? Okay, to help you visualize how the zone thing works, I’ll give you a simple, pretty common example: Let’s say you booked a flight to Berlin to do some sightseeing. Your flight to Schönefeld airport gets you a nice bird perspective view of the city center, and, to be honest, that’s all you wanted to see to begin with, no need to stay any longer. All that is left for you to do now is find one of the public transit ticket machines, purchase an ABC ticket that will get you from Schönefeld airport (zone C) to the central railway station (zone A), get on that train and you have only been in Berlin for a couple of hours but already crossed all the fare zones.
The duck and I are okay with being in Berlin for now. So, if we leave the city, we usually get an extension ticket to our regular AB ticket. Being ambassadors of the tightfisted transportation troupe, however, we can’t help but shed a few tears whenever we are enjoying the views out of an S7 window (S7 is one of the suburban train lines that goes through all three fare zones) and realize that we are passing Wannsee station, a station that does not only lead to one of Berlin’s most popular lakes, but also is the last station in zone B (=we need to pay extra if we want to go past it). Having the opportunity to get off the train at Wannsee, therefore, always results in a big celebration; coin purse crisis averted!
What city do you find the most confusing when it comes to public transit? Have you ever seen a city just through the windows of a train or bus?
Well, Cutie-pie, it was fun observing and documenting your grass growth journey… and you’re still pretty! We enjoy giving you water every day so that we can keep pretending that we have two green thumbs/wings/feathers/big toes/youknowwhatimean. But this shall be the last update on you – at least in a while (and that’s not because it will take us ages to write our next post. Well, not only that). Keep living a fun old life as #1 in our bedroom beautification
bproject (and in our hearts).