For this post, I want to talk about the transportation system in Germany based on what I have observed so far. Germany has various transportation providers such as the InterCity Express (ICE), Flixbus, U-Bahn, etc. The transportation provider that my program uses is called Rheinbahn, which provides bus rides, trams, and local trains at certain times within the northwest region of Germany.
Riding a bus, tram, or a train sounds intimidating at first, especially when the streets and stops are in a totally different language. In fact, one time when my friend and I used the tram for the first time by ourselves, we almost got lost. We were going to the main train station of Dusseldorf to get a ticket to Trier, but everything was German! The trouble was coming back to the hostel. So even reading the information was not helpful. So what we ended up doing was we asked random people for help. I would start with, “Entschuldigung, ich hab’ eine frage. Sprechen Sie Englisch?” which translates to, ‘Excuse me, I have a question. Do you speak English?’ Fortunately, there were some nice people who knew English and directed us to the right tram. After that experience, I had a better understanding of how to read the tram schedules now. One of the pictures below shows one of the tram schedule going south west of Dusseldorf.
Once I got used to the way the system works, I find it very efficient, well-structured, and user-friendly. Even after getting lost for a few while, all I had to do is stop, look at the information and their time schedule, and just wait. One amusingly odd moment I did experience is knowing that not every transportation here in Germany are on schedule. There are some delays here and there than I expected. Also, I was amazed to see the diversity of people using the bus, tram, and trains. I would see young children hop on the tram by themselves and get off like its nothing. There are also a good amount of people from different backgrounds such as Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, etc. that are using the public transportation.
This transportation system links to the UN Sustainable Goal #11 – sustainable cities and communities as it is accessible for all, with a well-structured layout of the stops. Moreover, there are even spaces for people in wheelchairs, bikes, dogs, etc. I feel that this way of transportation is very efficient since the trams and trains do not have to deal with traffic most of the time. I also find it interesting how most Germans follow the rules against jaywalking because it sure helps improve road safety for all. They prioritize bike lanes here, as well, which makes things more efficient. Here’s another picture showing the tram laid out in the middle of the road, sandwiched by car lanes, bike lanes, and pedestrian lanes. Overall, I think the transportation system is well-organized, and it also encourages me to be more punctual than usual.