Tag Archives: public transport

Pickpockets on the rise on Berlin Public Transport

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.

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Additional Free WiFi Hotspots at Berlin U-Bahn Stations

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.

Getting connected should be rather easy. Users will not need to login – neither username nor password are needed to use any of the free wifi hotspots. Choosing the hotspot “BVG WIFi” you would then just have to open a browser and accept the terms of use. After this “registration process” your device should be online.

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More rental Bikes on Berlin Streets soon

Berlin rental Bikes

Berlin rental Bikes - typical bike pool by Deutsche Bahn – Photo: T.Bortels/nuBerlin.com

A new player has  just entered the Berlin Rental Bike game, promising about 5000 rental bikes to hit Berlin streets in the near future.

Most of the bikes by the Leipzig company Nextbike will probably be placed inside the S-Bahn-Ring – but over time more and more bike stations should also be available outside the ring – at least along larger streets and near busy places.

Renting a bike will be relatively sheep, making it attractive for both locals and tourists. A half hour ride will most likely cost one Euro, a day pass will be available for only nine Euros – cheaper then most of the ‘regular’ bike rental services.

So far Deutsche Bahn had been the only big player in Berlin’s Rental Bike business. You might already have seen one of Deutsche Bahn’s bike pools, recognisable mostly by their almost iconic concrete blocks here and their on the sidewalks near larger street crossings.

In contrast to Deutsche Bahn’s bike pools, the new bike pools should work without any concrete blocks, making them slightly more ‘invisible’ than the current clusters of concrete blocks.

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Full story in German at morgenpost.de:

Traffic Accidents in Berlin

Last Friday together with the Berlin Senate the Berlin Police presented the new Traffic Accident Statistic for Berlin. The good news: over the years the number of fatal accidents went down. The bad news: the total number of accidents went up.

The main cause for accidents on Berlin streets are mistakes made when people make a turn – causing over 10.000 accidents on Berlin streets in 2015 alone. Runner up with nearly 6.000 accidents is what I would call selfishness: people either ignore the right of way, or they just don’t care.

Most of the traffic accidents (over 70%) are (of course) caused by cars – or actually car drivers. The number is even higher when we look at the number of car drivers involved in traffic accident: over 75%.

So if you happen to visit Berlin please be careful. Even though Berlin may look and feel quite relaxed, there is a lot of bad things happening also – traffic accidents being one of them. Please be careful, take your time – and also look after others. Only because the traffic lights are green doesn’t mean you are actually safe. Thank you!

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BVG: Berlin has its first electric Bus Line

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

10 things you can do in Berlin – but should you?!

I recently stumbled across an article published already last summer, featuring the catchy headline “10 things you can do in Berlin, but not in the US“. The article listed ten things, the author wants to make you believe ‘you can do in Berlin’. At parts the article, or rather the author, appears to be so enthusiastic about the things you can do in Berlin, that it could also read ‘things you must do in Berlin‘. In other words: for somebody who knows Berlin, the article reads a bit over the top.

I had a closer look at those ten things ‘you can do‘ and I must say I’m a bit concerned. Is this the picture people have of Berlin? Is this, what tourists think of Europe? Is this, why so many people choose to travel to Berlin? I hope not.

I know – publishing business is difficult. Listicles do ‘click well’. And the more provocative an article is, the better the chances are, that the article can ‘go viral’. But still: the article is really bothering me. Not that I think, the article would not tell the truth – which in some parts it does, in other parts it doesn’t. But only because you can do something, does it mean you should?

I know – the author of the article “10 things you can do in Berlin, but not in the US” probably does not really want to encourage the reader to do all those things, while in Berlin. I suppose the article was originally written rather out of curiosity – and I must admit I think I do understand the original purpose and I share the curiosity for differences between cultures, habits, laws. There are even some things missing: drinking in public is listed. But for example smoking in bars is missing. Anyways. In the end I probably had a very similar motivation, when I started this ‘Berlin guide’ nuberlin.com:  to simply point out, what you can do, when you’re in Berlin – and how things are done in Berlin in general. And what the local habits are. And – well. So far so good.

I really don’t want to be a ‘Spaßbremse‘ when I quickly go through the list, adding my opinion to each of the “things you can do”. I also don’t want to say that these are the thing ‘you must not do’ when you’re visiting Berlin. I just want to add my ‘five cents’ (“my mustard“) to the to-do-list and point out, what I think of each point. Hope you enjoy it still.

1. “Drinking in public”

Well – yes. Of course you can drink in public in Berlin. But please consider not getting drunk in public. Or at least try to behave. I even put up a hole page about this, because I think it’s quite an important subject: Drinking in Public

2. “Urinate outdoors”

What?! Well. Ok – compared to the US, maybe this is something, you can do – but should you?! I mean – would you really like the idea, of… Anyways. If it is really necessary, you may of course try to find a spot – behind a tree, in the bushes – but… Please try to avoid urinating in public. And by the way: urinating in public is not allowed in Germany! In some cities, you’ll risk a fine up to 5000 Euro! In Berlin however it’s only 20 Euro, as far as I know.

3. “Buy sex on the streets”

Excuse me?! Well. Ok – again I can just say: compared to the US, maybe this is something, you actually can do – but should you?! I don’t really want to go into details – but to me it just sounds so wrong. And it appears to me even worse to point this out in such an article in an encouraging way. Basically I find it good, that ‘sex workers’ are not criminalized for their job in Germany – but there is just so much more to this topic than just “legal vs. illegal”. There is a lot of human trafficking in Europe, young girls are promised ‘model careers’, passports are taken away, girls do risk their health for a ‘better’ life, etc. …

4. “Be naked… anywhere”

Again: What?! “Anywhere”?! Don’t! Well – again: compared to the US, the situation here probably is quite relaxed. But what does the author want to say by pointing out that “everyone is swimming naked, including entire families with kids”?! Of course, there are actually some spots, where people do go swimming naked. But when you are actually visiting Berlin please try to spot one naked person – it may be quite difficult.

5. “Reach countless other countries by train”

Yes, this is so true, especially ever since the Berlin Wall came down. You can basically book a train ticket to every and any European, or even Asian destination.

 6. “Stay a student until your mid-30s without shame or judgment”

Well – true. Somehow. But without shame of judgment? I’m not so sure…

7. “Drive at 150 on a public road, legally”

Yep. Or let’s put it this way: there are still parts of the German Autobahn where you have no speed limit – but not in Berlin anymore. On some days, if there is not so much traffic and the weather conditions are fine, on these parts of the Autobahn you may actually go “as fast as possible”. But again: should you? I actually have to admit I do enjoy it myself from time to time. But please remember: driving f***ing fast it is f***ing dangerous!!

 8. “Get a massage courtesy of your health insurance”

Well – if the doctor decides, that a massage would help, then you’ll get a massage. And depending on the health insurance contract you won’t have to pay for it. Of course!

9. “Evacuate due to bomb threats… from unexploded WWII bombs”

OMG yes. This is actually probably kind of unbelievable: about 60 years after the heavy bombings there are still bombs hidden underneath the city. And every now and then streets are closed, houses are evacuated, bombs are removed. Scary.

10. “Ride public transportation for free”

This is a good one. You could also claim, that you could have free lunch – if you just ate and run. But as we all know: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!

Please feel free to head over to thrillist.com and read the original article “10 things you can do in Berlin, but not in the US“. And please feel free to add a comment about this list, if you like to.

S-Bahn strikes again [update: end of strike]

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.:
www.s-bahn-berlin.de/bauinformationen/betriebslage.htm

[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.

Berlin S-Bahn on strike again

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:
www.s-bahn-berlin.de/bauinformationen/betriebslage.htm