- Why have we started this initiative?
Mobility has increased a lot in recent years. We all often plan a trip to a foreign city. How to travel is the first important decision. With short distances it is often simple: one’s own car, the train or a bus. In contrast to many other countries, long-distance buses are few and far between in Germany. Visiting a city within Germany, your main choice is between car and train. With the help of a route planner or the portal of the Deutsche Bahn (DB), you will need only a few minutes to find the necessary information about the route to the city of interest.
Often you intend to visit a city in a neighbouring country. The route planner does the job, and you can begin your trip. However, the distance may be a bit long. After arriving in the city, you probably won’t need your car (or you prefer not to use it). You would therefore prefer to travel by train. The Deutsche Bahn portal may help you, but it may get difficult if there are several routes or if the city is not that large. Would you decide to use the car as the simplest solution or would you contact a travel agency because you have difficulties getting sufficient information about train connections?
Suppose you are travelling on business to a medium-sized city in a distant country. You have to fly, but the city has no airport of its own and it is situated close to the border of three countries. Would you know whether it is preferable to fly to an airport in one of the neighbouring countries?
By plane and the airport bus you arrive in a foreign city.
Do you know whether public transport in the city and the surrounding area works well?
Have you heard about the beautiful scenery and the large number of leisure activities within a radius of 30 km of the city?
Do you know whether it is possible to do interesting day trips by bus or train?
Will it be possible to increase your mobility by hiring a bike?
You’ll find all the required information on the website of the city you’re visiting. However, you’ll need some time, and you’ll have to look at a lot of information to decide what is useful. Even after a longer search it won’t necessarily be obvious whether you have found the information you need.
Does a travel guide help?
No, in general you will find travel guides only for large cities and the main topics are usually quite irrelevant to public transport in the city and the surrounding area.
Can you imagine that key information for travelling to a city and mobility within the city and its surroundings can be summarized on one page?
It is possible, and it will be illustrated for the German city of Freiburg im Breisgau (about 210 000 inhabitants). We have summarized the essentials in one leaflet. The details can be found on the large number of internet addresses provided. The electronic version of the leaflet gives direct access to the websites. Planning of a trip will be possible within a short time. After arrival in the city, you can easily carry the key information with you. It is summarized in a single leaflet.
- Why only two pages of ‘Basics’?
- Allows translation into many languages
Restriction to two pages with key information permits translation into many languages without incurring substantial cost. With the help of friends, colleagues and interested people, we have translated the Freiburg leaflet into more than 10 languages within some weeks for free.
- Allows updating
Prices change regularly and internet addresses change occasionally. In Freiburg, fares on public transport increase every year. We will try to update the information regularly, but even an older leaflet (recognisable by its date) will be helpful. For planning and decision-taking the general price level is important, but not the precise fares. In addition, details are available on the website and key website addresses do not change often.
- Additional information – YOU can supply it
You would like additional material with details of tourist information, points of interest, timetables of trams, buses etc. An understandable wish, but as a private initiative without financial support, we can’t provide it. However, is it really necessary? Don’t the internet addresses help? However, YOU may be interested in summarizing detailed information for YOUR city and region. We are happy to put such information on our website (see PUBLIC TRANSPORT DETAILS)
- Allows translation into many languages
- Freiburg as an example
Freiburg has a good reputation as a city of science with a well-known university, forward-looking technologies, conferences and fairs. Consequently, many visitors come not only from Germany and the neighbouring countries, but also from far-away countries and from other continents. Many of them have never heard of Freiburg. Where is Freiburg and what is the best way to travel there? Because of its position near the borders of three countries (Germany, France and Switzerland), it could happen that different airports are the most suitable choice. Somebody from Shanghai (China) will probably fly to Frankfurt (Germany) or Zurich (Switzerland). From London (England) the Euro-Airport Basle/Mulhouse/Freiburg (situated in France) is the best choice, and from Vienna (Austria) the cheapest flight is probably to the Baden-Airpark Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden. However, from Vienna you may also prefer to take a train to Freiburg via Karlsruhe or via Basel.
On arrival in Freiburg, you will find a good public transport system. A short trip to the Black Forest is possible. If you arrive with 3 colleagues, you can buy a 24-hour ticket for 5 persons (19.80 €, August 2012), to leave after a meeting at 4pm by train for Lake Titisee in the Black Forest. One direction takes about 40 minutes, then 2 hours stay and back to Freiburg. At 8pm you can be back for dinner. Assume that you are from Chicago (United States) and that you found the leaflet on the website of a conference in Freiburg. Websites from the Feldberg, from Strasbourg or from the Béarnaise Alps may inspire the idea of a short holiday. A long-distance flight is necessary to attend the meeting, so wouldn’t it make sense to prolong the trip for a short holiday?
- Only Freiburg? No, many cities worldwide
We have lived in Freiburg for many years. We are very familiar with the possibilities of public transport in the city and the surrounding area. We also know (at least in part) the destinations Kaiserstuhl, Bodensee (Lake Constance), Colmar and Berne. But we also like to travel to foreign cities and would be very pleased to have a simple and helpful summary of public transport in foreign cities and their surrounding areas. As Freiburg lies in the corner of three countries, it has its own peculiarities and possibilities. However, this also makes searching for relevant information more challenging.
Many cities have their own peculiarities, making it difficult for foreigners to find relevant information. Therefore, visitors may fail to recognize interesting possibilities, or may do so only after arriving in the city. Often, it will be too late to change the plans of a trip.
Further cities as examples – How would you travel to these cities? Does the public transport system work well? Will it be possible to visit the surrounding area without a car? Are there interesting sights close to the city? Do you know the answers for the following cities?
Magdeburg (Germany) – in the middle of the country
Maastricht (The Netherlands) – like Freiburg, near the borders of three countries (The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany).
Stettin (Poland) – on the border to Germany and close to the Baltic Sea
Padua (Italy) and Madison (USA) – two twin cities of Freiburg
Without a great deal of additional information and with little work, we could plan trips to Magdeburg, Maastricht and Padua. We have been to these cities and we have at least some basic knowledge about public transport and interesting sights. But a trip from Freiburg to Stettin? Fly to Warsaw or take the train via Berlin? Planning would be much easier with suitable information. Perhaps you have to make a business trip to Madison in some months. A long-distance flight just for a two-day meeting. You might consider being accompanied by your partner and extend the trip for three more days. Planning and decision-making would be much easier if you had a simple summary, as for Freiburg.
- Public Transport Basics – YOUR CITY
Would you like to help us and thousands (in 2011 Freiburg had nearly 1.4 million overnight stays) of future visitors to YOUR city to plan the trip? Summarize the information in a similar way as we have done in the leaflet ‘ Public Transport Basics – Freiburg’. Make it available without cost to us and all potentially interested people – we will put it on the website as a PDF file. You (and we) will get a very helpful summary of many cities worldwide as a reward. This improves planning and saves a lot of time which you would need to search for relevant information for a future trip.
As a small private initiative, it is important to keep the effort involved at a relatively low level. Therefore we are only interested in Public Transport Basics for larger cities. We are happy to discuss possible exceptions. We would be keenly interested in PTB for the three largest cities in each country. In Germany and Europe, we are also interested in all cities with more than 200 000 inhabitants. Outside Europe, we would welcome information from cities with more than half a million inhabitants.
Obviously, we can’t be responsible for the information, but we will correct leaflets or remove them if we receive legitimate complaints.
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT DETAILS
Only Public Transport Basics? – complements are possible and desirable
There are many suitable complements for Public Transport Basics. Initially, we are thinking about links to city plans, but details of the position and opening hours of the tourist information office and of noteworthy sights can be most helpful. Furthermore, clearly arranged summaries of bike- and walking tours or information about leisure activities are welcome. We do not accept pictures and maps because they may be protected by copyright. We try to find suitable maps. Certainly, foreign visitors will be most grateful for additional relevant details from YOUR city. Send us a text file with the information. However, we are not interested in advertisements for restaurants and hotels, shopping centers, car rental companies etc. These documents will NOT be put on our website.
Of course, we can only accept information that can legally be put on the website without incurring charges.