Riding the local trains and buses as a foreigner in Munich? Easy! Being a popular tourist spot, the whole public transportation system in Munich is tuned to meet foreigners' demands - i.e., English language is standard.
The public transport called MVV is really good in Munich. Trains and buses regularly go at least every 20 minutes until the very, very late evening and then thin out to 30 to 40 minutes. During rush hours most of the trains go every 5 minutes and most buses every 10 minutes. In the city center, you can reach almost any place within a couple of minutes. And, they are very safe.
If you live in the so-called inner zone of Munich, which basically covers the whole city of Munich, you don't need a car to get around. If you don't have a rented parking spot, a car may even be annoying to hold because of the tight parking possibilities and resulting high prices for parking space.
Anything you need to know can be found at the sites of MVV directly which is in English language: www.mvv-muenchen.de
TRAINS, TRAMS & BUSES
Trains, trams and busses comprise the heart of the public transport in Munich. The trains in Munich are called "U-Bahn" (or "Hochbahn"), "S-Bahn" and they run from the outskirts to the city center and into the opposite outskirt. The terms are actually rather misleading, but they grew historically and simply sustained. The whole train system is relatively young as the need for a better public transport system only occurred when the city was elected to be the host of the Olympic games 1972. The system is complemented by the regional trains, which connect the smaller cities around Munich, and the trams, which complement the bus system.
- The U-Bahn stands for Underground. The first line was opened in 1972 and thus is relatively young. The U-Bahn (as well as Hochbahn) train lines are indicated with a "U" and a number. All U-Bahns cross the main station.
- The word S-Bahn stands for "Schnellbahn" ("fast line"), however, in fact, it is just as fast as the U-Bahn. The S-Bahn reaches farther out than the U-Bahn and runs mostly overground. All S-Bahns cross the main station, too, and the train lines are indicated with an "S" and a number. The oldest S-Bahn line was also built in the early seventies.
- The trams started operating on 21 October 1876. Initially pulled by horses, the lines were gradually electrified between 1895 and 1918, so that electric railcars replaced the animals. Originally, the newly built U-Bahn was to replace the tram system. However, it was decided that the trams shall stay and since 1966 new rails are being constructed.
- The bus system consists of 69 daily and 12 night lines, which run for a total distance of 467 km to a total of 968 stations and stops.
TARRIFS & TICKETS
The ticket system is as in many other cities organized by distance and popularity. There is the so-called inner district ("Innenraumzone") which covers the whole of Munich city and certain surrounding areas, and three outer rooms ("Aussenraumzonen") - together referred to as the outer district. The inner district is shaded in white on the MVV maps. The outer rooms are shaded in green, yellow and red. Apart from these two districts the tariff system has defined an XXL area, coverin zone 1 and 2, as well as the entire network, comprising inner and outer districts all together.
The below picture gives a good overview. If you live in Munich, and you don't regularly need to travel outside Munich, then the main zone is the inner room zone with its four rings 1 - 4. Each zone has 4 rings. When choosing a monthly subscription, the rings become more relevant. The price of your weekly or monthly ticket is based on the number of rings you will travel through (minimum of two). You can use all lines in all directions within your chosen rings.
The IsarCard: Weekly and Monthly tickets
It is worthwhile checking the options of a monthly ticket versus going by car. Such is called the "Isar-card". It can be transferred to other people and there are two alternatives:
- One-week ticket - valid for 7 consecutive days
- One-month ticket - valid for a month
In most cases, you will need a minimum of 3 rings, and such will cost 66,60 EUR (as of Feb 2018). Each additional ring will cost around 10-13 EUR more. The IsarCard can be bought at ticket machines only. Your own children aged between 6 and 14 are free to join from Monday to Friday after 9 am and at any other time on non-working days.
More info (in English), as well as prices for rings, can be read here.
The Single Ticket is for a single trip in the direction of the destination. You are allowed to change and interrupt your trip. Return and round trips, however, are not permitted.
The Single Ticket is ideal for spontaneous journeys with the MVV – and it is even cheaper when bought at a ticket machine by cashless payment. To buy the right ticket, you need to know where you would like to go to and from where. The price for a one-way ticket depends on the number of zones you are traveling. If you're planning more than 2 trips in the Munich city area per day, we recommend purchasing the Day Ticket.
A single ticket for one zone comes for 2,90 EUR, for 2 zones 5,80 EUR (as per Feb 2018).
There is also the short distance ticket. A short-haul journey is considered to be up to the fourth stop after boarding - if no more than two are conducted by S-Bahn or U-Bahn or by an ExpressBus. A short-haul ticket costs 1,40 EUR.
Single tickets can be bought at ticket machines, online or via the MVV app (mobile ticket). The online ticket can be bought online but must be printed and carried with you as a paper version. If you have the MVV app, you can upload your online ticket and use it as a mobile ticket. The ticket machines usually accept coins and EUR bills, like 5- 10 or 20 EUR. The online ticket, as well as the mobile ticket, requires a credit card. A registration is not necessarily required but comes in handy. The MVV app is especially helpful for foreigners as you can type in your destination and the app researches not only the quickest way to reach it, it also gives you the stop/station names where to step in and out, and a map around that.
Ticket machines are available in the wagons of the trams, but only at the stations for trains and buses. But then, bus drivers will sell the tickets manually to you. You have to type in your destination stop and it will calculate your charge. The touchscreen also comes in English language. They sufficiently explain what you would need to do. The only difficulty is to identify your destination if you don’t know the station’s name. However, in most stations, there is both a train map as well as a huge Munich map, with all bus lines. It is mostly next to the platforms. If you don't want to register your credit card with the MVV app, the app still works fine to identify the destination stop on your way.
Bus stations usually don't have ticket machines. You have to buy a ticket from the bus driver. He either knows the fare by heart or has a book to look up. Please be prepared that he will not change notes bigger than 10 EUR - the consequence could be that he does not take you. It may be worth knowing that for safety reasons the buses only have coins boxes with a set number of coins - what should they do if these coins run out? Thus, if you are using the public transport with cash only, it is worthwhile to carry coins around.
Each single ticket on paper needs to be devalued BEFORE you start to travel. There are stamp boxes in every bus and tram and also in the train stations, in front of the platforms. If a single ticket is not stamped in such a box, it is invalid!
Stripe ticket or “Streifenkarte”
A way to save some money on several single trips is the Streifenkarte, a card of 10 so-called stripes. Each zone requires 2 stripes to be devalued by stamping it. That results in a saving of 10 Eurocents per single trip. A short-haul (i.e., if you don't travel more than four stops after boarding, and if no more than two are conducted by S-Bahn or U-Bahn or by an ExpressBus) only requires one stripe to be stamped. Children need to devaluate one stripe only, no matter how far they are going in one direction.
The stripe ticket has 10 stripes and you start devaluating it from the bottom, where it says "1".
Stripe tickets can be bought at ticket machines, but only on those in train and tram stations. Bus drivers don't sell stripe tickets. You can also buy the stripe ticket via the MVV app. You will buy the stripe ticket for 14,00 EUR which translates into a credit for 10 stripes. Once you start traveling you "buy" 2 stripes off your 10 stripes credit.
Only valid with a stamp
Your Single Trip Tickets, Stripe Tickets and Day Tickets must be stamped prior to the start of your journey.
These tickets only become valid for travel once they have been validated in this way at the ticket machines provided for this purpose.
These types of tickets are already validated automatically by the ticket machine
You can buy most tickets in advance so that you have a ready supply. However, please note that some tickets are already validated at the time of purchase:
- Single Trip and Day Tickets bought at ticket machines in trams, metro buses and city buses in Munich
- Single Trip and Day Tickets bought from the electronic ticket printers in MVV regional buses
- Airport-City Day Tickets
If you want to get onto an S-Bahn (urban rail) or U-Bahn (underground) platform that can only be accessed via a ticket gate or features some other kind of barrier and you do not have a ticket for travel, you will need a platform ticket.
This is available from the ticket machines and is valid for one hour from the time of validation. A platform ticket costs 0,40 cents
On www.mvv-muenchen.de you can directly enter your starting point and target location (just put in the street names and choose "Straßenname" if you do not know the exact name of the stop). The result window allows you to drill down to the overall schedule of the line chosen or, additionally, to the map showing the stop and its neighborhood. It also indicates the fair you need to pay. It comes in English, Spanish, French and Italian, and, for the fun of it, in Bavarian dialect.
The website also comes as mobile version.
MVV security also conducts controls in the trains and on platforms or at the exits of train stations. They will take you out of the train if you do not have a ticket and take your personal details. Beware, that you require a platform ticket if you want to pick up a friend from a train and want to wait at the platform!
The penalty for driving without a ticket is 60 EUR.