Types of ticket for the Munich public transport system
The array of ticketing options on the Munich public transport system can appear a little confusing to the uninitiated. Once you understand how it all works, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how little it can cost you to get around the city.
With limited exceptions, the system runs on the basis that you are trusted to have a valid ticket with you when you board a bus, train or whatever. If you use the system daily then you will encounter a team of ticket inspectors about once twice per month. If they find that you are travelling without a ticket then you will face a fine for a first offence and heavier penalties for repeat offences. Pleading that you are an ignorant foreigner will not get you off the hook.
The system has a single, unified ticketing scheme. A ticket is valid for any combination of local trains, the subway, trams and busses.
You can get tickets for a single journey, for a fixed period of time or for a a fixed number of journeys. You can get tickets for a person, a child, a bike, a dog or a family group. Finally, you need to consider the length of your journey.
Train and subway stations have ticket machines. The Hauptbahnhof, Ostbahnhof and airport all have desks where you can buy your ticket from a person. Some bus stops or tram stops have ticket machines. Some busses and trams have ticket machines on board and you can also sometimes buy a ticket from the driver though he may tell you to go and use the machine.
Single Tickets (Einzelfahrkarte)
If you are just making one journey then you will buy a single ticket. If you are not sure whether you are an adult, child, dog or bicycle, you should ask a nearby policeman. In Munich, they all speak English. That just leaves you with the problem of deciding how long your journey is.
How Long is Your Journey?
For the purposes of ticketing, Munich is divided up into a set of concentric rings or zones. The more zones in your journey, the more expensive the trip.
It the trip is very short, it qualifies as a short trip or Kurzstrecke and will cost less than a normal trip inside one zone.
How do you know if your trip is a short one? Don't bother, if it was that short, you should have walked anyway!
If you really want to know, you need to get a detailed map and count the number of stops and decide if this is no more than the maximum number of stops allowed for a short trip on a bus, tram, subway or train as appropriate. Finally, you have to look at the map to see if any part of your journey is labelled as being too long for a short trip. See, by the time that you have worked all that out, you could have walked it!
Strip Tickets (Streifenkarte)
A Streifenkarte is basically a bunch of single journey tickets printed onto one strip of card. The ticket is divided up into ten bands and you calculate the number of bands that you need depending on the length of journey. A Kurzstrecke needs just one band and beyond that, you need two bands for each zone in your journey.
If you are making a two zone journey with a new Streiffenkarte then you need to use up four bands of the ticket. Fold the card so that the fourth band is exposed and insert it into the stamping machine to cancel that band and, by implication, the three below it and that's it.
A Streifenkarte is slightly cheaper than buying single tickets for your journeys but if you find yourself using them up at a rate or one or more per week then there is probably a better option available with some form of season ticket.
Take your time, but choose your route well
If you are travelling on a ticket that is priced according to the number of zones, you are allowed plenty of time to complete the trip. Normally there will be enough time to stop halfway, have lunch and then continue. However, you may not double back on yourself and you must choose a route that a ticket inspector will consider to be sensible.
Daily, Weekly or Monthly Tickets
You can buy a ticket that is valid for a whole day or for one week or one month. You will be able to read about those real soon now.