sábado, 30 de agosto de 2008

Berlin’s public transport system

Berlin’s public transport system consists on a quite dense network of public transport that allows people to be able to have a high quality of life without the need of having a car.

The core of the system is formed by the underground train (called in German U-Bahn) and the urban train (S-Bahn). Both train systems can be considered what in the English speaking world is known as the “subway”. Nevertheless each one has a slightly different function. The trains of the U-Bahn are smaller and their stations are nearer to each other than the S-Bahn’s. The U-Bahn lines are concentrated in center of the city, or the zone A of public transport that is bordered by a circular line of the S-Bahn. The S-Bahn lines connect Berlin’s downtown with its outskirts, zones B and C, and, aside from the circular line or Ringbahn, the system is designed has a north-south and a east-west axis.

The tram and bus lines complement these train systems. In the centric zones these trams and buses have a frequency of passage of 10 min. in average and the outskirts of 20 min. Like support services to the public transport network are the taxi operators located in the proximity of many stations and stops, the channels to circulate with bicycle and the provision of parking facilities for bicycles in most of the stations. The trains, trams and buses are suited to transport bicycles (not the buses), baby carriages and wheelchairs. The city has public transport the 24 hours to the day thanks to night lines of buses and to the fact that almost all the system works 24 hours on holidays and weekends. This system, combined to a unregulated fuel price (that at the present time is around €1.5 ($2.2; £1.21) by liter), makes Berlin a city without any major traffic problems.

All this system is in hand only of two companies that work in collaboration, the S-Bahn Berlin (subsidiary of the railroads state company Deutsche Bahn) and the BVG, property of the State of Berlin. The first company is only in charge of the network of the S-Bahn whereas the BVG is in charge of operating the rest of the network. The two companies offer the possibility of buying tickets that work in the entire network. The individual ticket costs €2.1 ($3.09; £1.7) and is valid in any means of public transport during two hours. The monthly ticket costs €72 ($105.8; £58.24). These companies also collaborate to offer, through their respective Web sites, an information system that allows the user to know what route he/she will have to take and how long it will take him/her to arrive at his/her destination just by writing his/her departure arrival directions.

When I compare this system with the one of congested the great Latin American cities (or in other Third World areas) in where the subway system, and its lines of buses, does not cover many parts of the city and coexists with infinite private lines of buses without stops correctly signalized nor routes available in any written format, I see one of the reasons that explain our smaller productivity and development. While many Latin Americans (Africans, or Asians) are commuting, the Berliner who lives at a similar distance from his/her workplace has already began to work and could rest more because he/she didn’t have to wake up so early to get to work on time.


No hay comentarios: