Public transportation in Stuttgart

Stuttgart public transportation - Getting around.

I posted about car sharing lately. To go further into the subject of mobility, I am adding info here about public transportation. In an additional post I will detail the bicycle rental system.

There is an extensive public transportation system in Stuttgart and the surrounding region. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas, theater, and shopping are within strolling distance of the center. S-Bahn train lines extend to the whole region, 30 kilometers or more in all directions. U-Bahn and Strassen-Bahns are the municipal lines, not going so far but have more frequent stops. Buses fill in the gaps where the trains don’t go. Transportation generally goes from 5 am to 12.30 AM - or longer on the weekends. Many trains run at 30 minute intervals during the slowest times and 10 to 15 minutes at rush hours, buses even more frequently.

Tickets are bought before entering a train from vending machines. Bus tickets are also available from the drivers while entering. In U-Bahns there is a small machine to validate usage of 4-ride tickets, otherwise single ride and other tickets need no validation. I point this out to contrast to Munich. There one buys a single ride ticket and has to have it stamped upon entering a U-Bahn. I learned the hard way by being controlled and told they ticket was not stamped yet thus invalid.

Being caught without the proper ticket in public transportation results in a penalty of at least 40 Euros. Ticket prices depend on the distance and are not cheap but there are many specials like; monthly or weekly passes which include all 3 forms of transportation. There are group tickets and a cheap ticket “short ride” that cost 1,30 Euros. It’s good for 3 stops on bus or U-Bahn, no changing lines, or 1 stop on the S-Bahn.

The regional and municipal lines cooperate with the national German Rail system - Deutsche-Bahn popularly referred to simply as DB. They offer daily tickets for individuals or groups for the whole state of Baden-Württemberg that include the local and regional systems. They unfortunately don’t include the fast, long distant ICE or IC trains but are often a good deal for day’s trips. For longer distances tickets can often be bought up until the day before traveling online with discounts up to 70%. In addition, there are year cards giving 25, 50 or 100% off for all of the DB trains but most tourists would not be around long enough to make use of one and need a German address to get one.

If one gets a ticket to another city with DB, one should note if it states ”+ City” on it next to the destination or origin. This means one can continue on and use all of the public transportation in the destination city, or if so indicated, in the city of departure. This can make a huge price difference. If one starts from the outskirts of the Stuttgart S-Bahn system to get to the main station and takes a train to Hamburg where one would continue on to a final destination in the outskirts – one would otherwise easily pay 10 to 12 Euros just for these local connections.

Relevant websites:

Deutsche Bahn:

Stuttgart Public transportation:

The fine for riding without a valid ticket on public transportation has gone up from 40 to 60 Euros as of July 2015 in most cities. I wasn't up to date since it's been a while since I made the mistake of not having the proper ticket. I can also add that one can NOT talk ones way out of a ticket. If you think you have a valid excuse then there is a special office you can go to and discuss it. The controllers will not cut you a break for any reason. I've know people to get angry and say; "I just won't pay". Well, it automatically goes to court where you inevitably lose and then pay the additional court costs and penalties adding good 500 or more euros to the bill.

A couple of things to add. In the Stuttgart S-Bahn, there is a 1st class section in addition to the normal 2nd class. There is a glass partition and door that separates the two. Although there is a "1" on the door, if one is not used to the system or it is crowded, then one could easily overlook this. Don't make the mistake of ending up in 1st class because your 2nd class ticket will be like having no ticket at all. You will pay a big fine, not just the difference in tariffs if controlled. Also, with the  daily or weekend group tickets, one can add additional people, up to 5 for just an additional 5 Euro per person. So it really pays off to find friends or even spontaneous people at the station to share the ride and costs with.

There are also weekly, monthly or yearly passes for commuters, which allow unlimited travel within a certain area (typically between your home and work). This is a good deal if you travel daily. Visit an SSB or VVS office to get one.
It often pays to also include the two inner city zones (if not already included in your commute), because then you can go to the city without additional cost and as often as you like.
Another option for the yearly passes is called "TicketPlus": Pay approx. EUR10/month more and your pass becomes transferable, i.e. you can give it to your friends to use when you don't need it, and it is also valid for two people (or more kids) during off-peak hours.

The TicketPlus Beppi mentioned is a very good deal for many families. I had one for about 5 years. Never gave it to my friends but my wife and I both used it extensively. Not only is it transferable (usable by anybody) but after 7 pm on weekdays and the whole day Saturdays and Sunday - two adults and 3 children (under 17) or all of your own kids can ride together. Another big plus on the weekends is that it is valid for the whole VVS System and not just the specific zones paid for. It usually cost a lot to go to the outlying zones so this is great for weekend trips in the region.

One drawback to a transferable  pass, rather than personal one, is that you have to have the pass with you. With a personal one, if you get controlled and you can later prove that you have a years pass, they can’t fine you. With a transferable one, someone else could be using it at the same time, so this doesn’t work.

The other thing is the cost. About 7 years ago I paid a bit more than 700 Euros for a 2 zone TicketPlus pass. Now it cost 956 Euros. I also stopped going to my Taekwondo training which meant 2 or 3 times a week using the ticket for both zones. Most of my current usage is short routes and I can often take advantage of the special short ride tickets for just € 1,30. But I am planning to sell my car since I have joined the Stadtmobil car sharing program and in combination a year’s pass might make sense again. Which pass if any is best all depends on your personal usage.

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