Vienna part 2: more comparisons of the transportation systems

My first post on Vienna focused mainly on my first impression of the city of Vienna based on coming in by rail, from Munich, and comparing the trains.  I feel public transportation is extremely important when visiting most major European capitals, because lets face it:  I walk at least 12km/day and when I’m on vacation it’s got to be double that because my whole body falls apart.  So, to at least minimize this, public transport is a must.

In Munich I’m spoiled.  Our public transport is one of the best in the world.  Of course there are flaws (the ticketing system is difficult for even Germans to figure out), but the network is set up better than any I have seen yet. (…and yes, I have been to Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, New York, etc.)

So anyways, I thought I’d do a quick direct comparison of the local transport of Vienna and Munich.

Munich:

There are 4 main ways to get around town:  S-bahn, U-bahn, Trams, and buses.

The S-bahns are the commuter trains that are almost always above ground, but are underground for 5 stops.  These are by far the most useful and used part of the public transport system for tourists.  They are the fastest way from the main train station (where most hotels are located) to the center of town and back.  The S-bahn is also the cheapest and easiest way to get from the city center to the airport or vice versa.

The U-bahn is the underground system (subway).  These are almost always under ground at all times.  U-bahns are useful for commuters, but not so much for tourists as most of them merely take tourists away from the sights and do not connect them (easily at least) to the places they want to go.  As with anything there are exceptions of course:  the soccer stadium is on the U6 and the Olympic park is on the U3.

The Trams are the street cars.  They are either on the road itself of in the median of the road at all times…always above ground.

Vienna:

There are 4 main ways to get around town:  S-bahn, U-bahn, Trams, and buses.

The S-bahns are more like regional trains than commuter trains and are about 20 years older than Munich’s.

The U-bahns are above and below ground randomly.  (They’re fairly similar to Munich’s as far as comfort though.)

The Trams in Vienna are the main way tourists get around town and are strongly encouraged by all the guide books as well as the tourist information.  They are sometimes above ground, sometimes below…so good luck with that.  None of them go through the city center.

Below is a picture of Petra standing next to the tram tracks at an underground tram stop.

Vienna's Tram....underground and ghetto  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was very irritated by the Vienna public transport system.  It always got us where we wanted to go with a fairly minimal wait…but everything was…well, dilapidated and archaic looking and feeling compared to Munich.  The terminology the city chose to describe the various parts of the system doesn’t tell you if you should look on the street or under it, which annoyed me immediately.  I dunno, I was irritated.

Next up I should probably talk about actual sight seeing, eh?  Well…I guess.  It’ll have to be in another post, though, as there are a lot of really cool things to see in Vienna…and we tried to see most of them.

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