Stuttgart public transportation | Getting around
Good connections with buses & trains
Stuttgart public transportation including the surrounding area is an extensive system. S-Bahn train lines cover the whole region, 30 kilometers or more in all directions. U-Bahn and Strassen-Bahns are the municipal lines, not going as far but have more frequent stops. Buses connect much of the places in between. Transportation usually runs from 5 am to 12.30 AM – longer on the weekends. Most trains run at 30 minute intervals during the off times. 10 to 15 minutes at rush hours. Buses go even more often at peak times. But can be more limited in off times or on Sundays on routes servicing outlying villages.
Tickets are purchased before entering a train from vending machines. Bus tickets can additionally be acquired from the drivers while entering. In U-Bahns there is a small machine to stamp 4-ride tickets. Single ride and other tickets need no validation. Systems vary from region to region. In Munich for example, one buys a single ride ticket and has to have it validated upon entering a U-Bahn. I failed to do this once in Munich and ended up getting fined. I was so used to the Stuttgart system; I didn’t consider it might be different elsewhere.
Penalties for no ticket or wrong class
Another thing to take care of is not to accidentally end up in the 1st class section. There is a glass partition and glass door that separates it from 2nd class. If it is crowded or one is not used to the system, it is not difficult to overlook the „1“ posted on the door. Inside it looks virtually the same. One wonders why anybody would pay more for first class since it is not visibly nicer. Yet having a normal 2nd class ticket in 1st class is as good as having no ticklet at all.
Being caught without the valid ticket in any public transportation means a penalty of at least 60 Euros. Talking one’s way out of this is not an option! Yet, if you can somehow prove a substantial excuse, you can beg at the special office. Just don’t slip on the trail of tears on your way in. They hear sob stories all of the time. If one just blows it off and refuses to pay, it systematically goes to court. The court costs and fines will be at least 500 Euros.
Ticket prices are calculated on the distance and are rather expensive. The actual distance is not calculated, rather they determine it by zones. One has to look closely to plan the best route at times. It is theoretically possible to travel 10 kilometers in a single zone. This would be cheaper than going just 1 kilometer but crossing into another zone. There are however many special deals available. Monthly or weekly passes include all buses and trains. There are group tickets and a cheaper “short ride” ticket that cost 1,30 Euros. It’s valid for 3 stops on bus or U-Bahn or 1 stop on the S-Bahn. Changing lines or from train to bus is not allowed under this tariff.
German National Rail system Deutsche Bahn
The regional and municipal lines cooperate with Deutsche-Bahn. Popularly referred to simply as DB it’s the German National Rail system. They offer daily tickets for individuals or groups for unlimited travel in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This includes the local and regional systems. They don’t include the fast, long distant ICE or IC trains but are often a good deal for a day trip. Each additional person on a daily or weekend group ticket, up to 5 people, only cost 5 Euros. Longer distance train tickets can often be purchased online or at the counters in the main station. Unless sold out, buyable until the day of travel with discounts up to 70%. There are also annual cards giving 25, 50 or 100% off for all of the DB trains. Most tourists would not be around long enough to make use of this. Also German residency is required.
„+ city tickets“: if one buys a ticket to another city with Deutsche Bahn, one should see if it says ”+ City” on it next to the starting point and/or destination. If so, one can use all of the public transportation belonging to these cities local systems. This is automatic for distances over 100 kilometers. Otherwise, one can pay to add on this option when getting the ticket. This can save a lot of money. Example: if one went from the outskirts of the Stuttgart on the S-Bahn system to get to the main station. Then they took a train to Hamburg. Then they continued on to a final destination in the outskirts. This would easily mean an extra 10 to 12 Euros for these local connections. But it’s already included if using a “+ city” ticket.
Year tickets for Stuttgart VVS system
The TicketPlus year’s pass for the Stuttgart VVS public transportation system is a particularly good deal for many families. I had one for about 5 years, which my wife and I both used 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. Also, on the weekends it is valid for the whole VVS System and not just the specific zones registered. It normally cost a lot to go to the farthest zones, thus this is great for weekend trips in the area.
A personal year’s pass is also available. It cost less but can only be used by the person issued to. An advantage to a transferable one, is that you don’t have to have the pass on you. With a personal one, if you get controlled and you can later show that you own a year’s pass, they can’t fine you. But to avoid a lot of administrative hassle, one should always carry it. This doesn’t work with a transferable one. There are also personal monthly passes. They are good for regular riders who don’t want to commit to a whole year. The year vs monthly ticket price is structured so that one pays the equivalence of 10 monthly tickets but gets to ride for 12.
Unfortunately, as the prices for normal tickets for the VVS have gone up, so have the yearly passes. About 7 years ago I paid around 700 Euros for a 2 zone TicketPlus pass. Now (2015) it cost 956 Euros. Most of my current usage is now shorter routes and I can often take use a special short ride tickets for just € 1,30. I might buy a TicketPlus year’s pass in the future since I have joined the Stadtmobil car sharing program and am planning to sell my car. Which pass is optimal depends on your personal needs.
Deutsche Bahn: www.bahn.de
Public transporation in Stuttgart: www.vvs.de
Specialty pages not in the main navigation menu:
For entertainment customized for car dealerships: clown-event.de/auto-dealer-entertainment-english/
Festival entertainment is one of Tom’s specialties: clown-event.de/festival-entertainment/
Tom’s world travels: https://clown-event.de/world-travel/
Tom’s world travels in German: https://clown-event.de/toms-weltreisen/
Funny story of a „typical“ gig in English: Performance story
Stuttgart bike rental, the convenient way to get around town: Bike rental Stuttgart
Car sharing Stuttgart, Germany; ecological and promotes urban mobility: Car sharing Stuttgart, Germany
Clown juggler Tom Bolton’s original clown website contains addition information and photos, also in English, and includes some more private insights to his experiences on the world stage and is available at: www.clowntombolton.com