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Linux-Kongress 2002
9th International Linux System Technology Conference
September 4-6, 2002 in Cologne, Germany

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Using public transport in Cologne

Cologne is rather well-connected by public transport. All short-range transport facilities (bus, tram, tube and the short-range trains of type "RE" (RegionalExpress), "RB" (RegionalBahn) and "S" (S-Bahn)) can be used with compound tickets which are issued by the "Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg" (VRS), the cooperation of the several local and regional public transport providers. Besides these there are train-only tickets issued by the "Deutsche Bahn AG" (DB) - these are only valid in trains, but not in tram, tube and buses. You can see which one you have by the logo on it - if it has a "DB" logo, it is a train-only ticket, and if it has a "VRS" logo, it is a compound ticket. If you are at a ticket vending machine at one of Cologne's train stations, you can usually buy both kinds of tickets; at tram/tube/bus stations, only compound tickets (VRS) are available.

Recommended tickets

If you stay inside Cologne, we recommend buying a 24-hour VRS ticket or a 3-days VRS ticket valid for Cologne (for more detailed info please see below) - these allow you to use any bus/tram/tube/short-range-train within the city of Cologne for 24 hours resp. 3 days.

Where to buy tickets

  1. going by train

    At most train stations as well as at many tram and tube stations there are ticket vending machines, at which you can buy all sorts of tickets. If you take a train, you have to buy a ticket before entering the train. If you do not have a valid ticket when entering the train, you can be charged a fine of more than 30 EUR, and you may have to face possible civil and criminal prosecution.

  2. going by tram/tube/bus

    In most cases there is a ticket vending machine inside the tram/tube/bus, so you can also buy a ticket there. If there is none, please ask the driver for a ticket.

Which ticket to buy

The area usable with the compound tickets is divided into zones ("Zonen") and subzones ("Teilzonen"). One-way-tickets are staged by the number of zones they are valid for. Each ticket vending machine offers one-way tickets of the types K, A, B, C and D.
K is for "Kurzstrecke", i.e. very short distance and is valid for a maximum distance of two subzones. A to D are valid for:

Besides these one-way tickets you can buy a so-called "Streifenkarte", a "stripe-ticket" for 6,80 EUR, but this is usually not available from ticket vending machines, only in ticket shops. It consists of 8 stripes and allows variable use. You have to obliterate a number of stripes depending on the distance you want to travel. The number of stripes is equivalent to the A/B/C/D one-way tickets: Please note that there is no equivalent to a K ticket on a stripe ticket, so even a very-short distance use needs 2 stripes!

Unfortunately, finding out in which zone the current position and the target station are located, is not that easy in all cases. At some stations you find a map of Cologne on which you can see the zone borders, but this map is not available on many stations. At some stations you can find a list of target stations with the ticket needed to get there from the current position, but of course this lists only the more imporatant stations due to space restraints.

There are also time-based tickets available. Interesting for Linux Kongress visitors are the 24-hour ticket and the 3-days ticket. They are available in different distance variants, but the most interesting variant is probably the cheapest one, covering the whole city of Cologne (that is zone 11 to 17). This costs 5,15 EUR for the 24-hour ticket and 12,95 EUR for the 3-days ticket.
The 24-hour ticket is valid excactly 24 hours after the time of issue, the 3-days ticket is valid on the day of issue and the following two days until end of service on the last day.
They are rather cheap if you use public transport more than twice a day: two one-way tickets of type A (which is not even enough to cover all of Cologne) cost 1,90 EUR each, i.e. 3,80 EUR together, so if you need at least one more ticket or need to cover a longer range than the two zones of an A ticket, a 24-hour ticket covering all of Cologne for 5,15 EUR is cheaper, and you do not have to worry about zone borders and ticket types as long as you stay inside of Cologne.

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Comments or Questions? Mail to Last change: 2005-09-17