The problem isn’t really new – pickpockets have always been targeting commuters in Berlin, as in probably every other city. But an increase of 50% in 2015 compared to 2014 is an alarming figure. In 2015 over 12.000 cases were reported to the police – on Berlin Public Transport (BVG) alone.
That makes it almost every third of all cases of pocket-picking reported in Berlin. The year before *only* some 8.000 case of pocket-picking on Berlin Public Transport were reported. In 2012 the number was as low as 4.000 cases.
The rising numbers seem to be a sign of Berlin’s rising popularity. More and more people are either moving to Berlin or spending a holiday. And more and more people are using the Berlin public transport. Over 3 Million passengers are currently using the BVG on a daily basis.
Pickpockets seems to target mostly tourists – but of course also the regular Berliner can become a victim rather easily. Basically everybody knows at least someone who has been robbed while using Berlin’s public transport. So in case you are planning to use Berlin’s public transport in the near future: please be aware, that although Berlin seems to be such a nice and relaxed place to be, sometimes it’s not.
For almost a year Berlin’s public transport provider BVG has been testing a single Free WiFi Hotspot at U-bahn station Osloer Strasse. Finally the company has come to the conclusion, that it seems to be a good idea to provide free wireless internet access at more subway stations across Berlin.
The public transport provider has just announced, that a couple of rather busy subway stations have been equipped with the necessary gear – and we can expect to find the hotspot “BVG Wi-Fi” in the next couple of days. The first batch of subway stations that will be equipped with Free WiFi Hotspos are Mehringdamm, Möckernbrücke, Gleisdreieck (at U2), Alt-Tempelhof, Hausvogteiplatz, Bülowstraße, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and Nollendorfplatz (also at U2).
And this is basically just the beginning. In the next couple of weeks and months more subway stations will be connected. As a second batch of stations that will be connected to the internet wirelessly BVG lists the following stations:Zoologischer Garten, Rathaus Spandau, Hermannplatz, Leopoldplatz, Wittenbergplatz, Kurfürstendamm and Stadtmitte. So first the most frequented stations will be connected – other ‘smaller’ stations following later.
Berlins public transport provider BVG has just opened the first electric Bus line. Four electrical buses are now commuting between the two West-Berlin stations Zoo (Zoologischer Garten / Hertzallee) in Charlottenburg and Südkreuz on bus line 204.
On each end the buses can be recharged for a few minutes by parking above an induction loop. The main charging will however take place in the night, when the buses are not in operation.
The buses are not only emissions-free, but also very silent. This is why they have loudspeakers attached to the vehicle body, letting the waiting passengers know of their approach acoustically.
According to BVG regular average Berlin buses have an emission of CO2 of 1.300 gramms per bus per kilometer. Following this calculation BVG estimates some 260 tons of CO2 saved per year for the operation of the bus line 204, compared to regular diesel buses.
Further information in German on the website of BVG and at heise.de: “Erste Elektro-Linienbusse fahren durch Berlin“
Berlin’s public transport provider BVG is currently testing free internet access in Wedding’s subway station Osloer Strasse (U8 / U9). Until the end of October everybody on that station can simply login into BVG’s hotspot “BVG Wi-Fi” and use their internet connection free of charge.
BVG is hoping to gather information about the practicability of such free WiFi hotspot in subway stations. How will the network react, when a train enters the station and literally hundreds of users login to the same hotspot? Will people even use the free service – or are people too suspicious about the network’s security? Will the subway station be more frequented / will more people be using the U-Bahn because of the free WiFi hotspot?
Of course BVG could also do a research on how other European cities and other public transport operators are handling free WiFi hotspots – probably they have already. Here’s just a quick look at three other European capitals:
- London’s tube is offering free Wifi in about 150 stations in cooperation with other major partners. So you have to be a (registered) of one of those partners to access one of the hotspots.
- Finland’s capital Helsinki basically offers free all across the city: “The city of Helsinki offers a free WLAN-service for residents and travelers alike. No passwords or registration required. Just look for “Helsinki City Open WLAN” from the available networks.” (visithelsinki.fi) As far as I know WLAN is also accessible in various buses, trams and at tram- and bus stops. And it’s fast.
- Also Estonia’s capital Tallin offers free internet access to residents and visitors – and has been offering for about ten years now: “Tallinn city provides free wifi to its citizens and visitors in 30 different hotspots around the city (not including city libraries and schools). It is free to use and has been so since it started in 2005.” (www.visitestonia.com)
My honest opinion: I would strongly suggest it’s about time that Berlin also offers free internet access to residents and visitors. The BVG-Test is a step in the right direction – but instead of testing free WiFi hotspots in just one station, BVG staff and the City Council should probably take a weekend trip to some other European capital and then finally start installing hotspots across the city.
Almost a bit boring – but still relevant:
Deutsche Bahn train conductors are on strike – again.
And that means that also Berlin’s S-Bahn conductors are on strike – again.
Again: about one thrird of Deutsche bahn trains should be operating – and most of the S-Bahn lines will operate every twenty minutes. But as far as i know – again – the Ringbahn will not be in service.
All other public transport, like Trams, U-Bahn and busses, run by Berlin’s public transport operator BVG, will be operating ‘as usual’ – again.
Further information about the strike should be (again) available on the homepage of Berlin S-Bahn – although currently the site seems to be down. Or is it just me? Anyways – here’s the link to the page with schedules etc.:
[UPDATE] Surprisingly enough one day after the Deutsche Bahn strike began, it will be over. For how long? Nobody knows – at least for a couple of wekks the radio says. Over the day there may still be irregularisies – but (as the radio noted) from about 7 pm on trains should be operating close to normal – and so should Berlin’s public transport provider S-Bahn.
The good news first: since today the North-South S-Bahn tunnel is back in operation.
The bad news: this week Berlin’s S-Bahn drivers are on strike again. This means that only about 30% of all S-Bahn trains will be operating between Tuesday, May 5th and Sunday, May 10th.
During that time period, the ring is closed – no S-Bahn in operation. Instead most of the other lines will be in operation, mostly on a 20 minute schedule.
All other public transport, like Trams, U-Bahn and busses, run by Berlin’s public transport operator BVG, will be operating ‘as usual’ – which means vehicles might be quite crowded and you should probably calculate a couple of minutes on to of your ‘normal’ travelling plans.
Further details can be (again) found on the homepage of Berlin S-Bahn:
Again Deutsche Bahn will go on trike this week – and, again Berlin’s public transport provider S-Bahn, owned by Deutsche Bahn, will be affected. Here’s how and when the strike will strike tomorrow (Wednesday, 22nd of April) and the day after (Thursday, 23rd of April).
About 30% of regular S-Bahn traffic will run. That means most of the stations will be connected – the plans are that every twenty minutes there should be a train. However, the popular ‘Ringbahn’ that rides all across Berlin in a large scale circle, will not be operating at all.
Berlin’s main public transport operator BVG is planning to help with additional and longer U-bahn trains, busses and trams – but you should not rely on this backup to work very well and instead add some extra travelling time to your schedule.
Currently the north-south S-Bahn tunnel between Gesundbrunnen and both Yorckstrasse stations (S1, S2, S25) is closed – and will stay closed until 1:30am on 4 May 2015 (Monday).
One of Berlin’s S-Bahn official recommendations is to use ‘Ringbahn’ instead – which might be a good idea if you really want to travel from Gesundbrunnen to Yorckstrasse – or of course the other direction. Alternatively you may jump on one of the “Schienenersatzverkehr” (SEV – S-Bahn replacement shuttle buses) Buses serving the closed S-Bahn stations – more or less.
The SEV-Buses go quite frequently – every 3–4–5 minutes. There is a north branch and a south branch, meeting at S-Bahn station Friedrichstrasse.
Find more information on this information page about the construction work – and here you can download a fly with detailed information, time tables, positions of the bus stations etc.
One curiosity: the bus drivers neither sell tickets nor check tickets – just as S-Bahn drivers would.
S-Bahn Ersatzverkehr Bus-Haltestelle “North” at Brunnenstrasse / near Bernauer Strasse