Arriving in a city and navigating public transport is intimidating, even when you speak the language!  So blimey, it’s full-blown hide and seek when you don’t (disclaimer: I am blonde ????).  So, understanding Frankfurt Public Transport!?  Trains, planes and automobiles now add trams, buses, bicycles and traffic signals, which are not entirely logical in my brain (cars, pedestrians, and bicycles GO at the same time – SERIOUSLY?!!!).

For the better part of the first year I lived here, I tried avoiding any and all forms of public transport.  One family attempt was a dismal failure – something that should have been, at best, 15 minutes took 3 hours.  So, the thought of doing it on my own was too much.  Let me clarify: it wasn’t the going that terrified me. It was the coming back.  Moreover, the idea of being lost and playing charades (in an attempt for people to understand me) with two screaming children??  Uum, No Thanks!   

Like everything in life, once you’ve figured it out and you look back, you do wonder what all the fuss was about!

Frankfurt transport 101 for all those fresh off the boat:

  • Ubahn – underground & mostly central
  • Sbahn – central and out to suburban routes
  • Tram – city

Unlike London, the metro system does not have turnstiles to control people coming and going.  Saying that, plain clothes ticket officers appear like ninjas and can check your ticket anytime.  Furthermore, should you choose to attempt this and get caught, a €60 fine awaits you.

Quick Tips

  • When travelling alone, particularly alone, have an idea of how and where you are going!  With this in mind, having a safety plan is a good idea.
  • Buying a day pass (Tageskarte) is often cheaper than buying a round/return trip
  • Many companies partly or fully fund their employee’s public transport costs
  • Using RMV prepaid, you receive 20% off each single ticket
  • Einzelkarte (single ticket):  this will generally ensure you are able to get anywhere in the city
  • Kurzstrecke (Short trip ticket): for a journey of less than two kilometres (though unfortunately, our tip doesn’t extend to how to determine the 2km 😬)
  • Deutschland Ticket:  flat rate ticket that allows you unlimited travel across local and regional public transport anywhere in Germany.
  • Weekends and after 7 pm weekly, monthly and yearly travel card holders may have a plus one free of charge.  Also, all your own children or up to 3 other children may travel free

After 1am most trains and trams are no longer running.  You can however still find buses at a reduced service, be sure to check the schedules before you head out.  It’s cold at those bus stops late at night, ask me, I know!

As I mentioned Frankfurt public transport doesn’t run all night so taxi is often your only option.  Taxis are however a luxury, dear heaven most are Mercedes Benz which makes quite a change from India where I wasn’t sure the car would make it to my destination.  Thus be prepared to part with a few of your hard earned euros.  On that note, Uber has recently been reintroduced which makes for a slightly less extortionate ride but hey ho at 3am who worries about 3\4 euros ????

Invaluable transport apps:

When I first arrived I was like a headless chicken boarding trains in the wrong direction and then boarding the next train still in the wrong direction (yip I’m special like that) .  I also found it almost impossible to ask anyone for directions because I couldn’t speak German.  When I was in India they’d give you directions even if they had no idea what you were asking about, I’m still wondering what’s worse!

  1. RMV – public transport route planning which can be directly connected to credit card of your choice to buy tickets! (app)
  2. My taxi\Free now (website)
  3. Uber – Frankfurt has a ‘on again off again’ relationship with uber
  4. DB Call a bike (app) –
  5. Tier Mobility (app) – electric scooters

Other forms of transport here in Frankfurt:

  • Bicycles.

Now, this is a whole different ballgame, quite a serious (and angry) bunch really .  Thought exercise was supposed to make you happy?  If you happen to be driving, ensure you at least a mile a way from any known cyclists (in particular those wearing headphones, which is most) . If however you are unable to do this they will be sure to point it out whilst waving their hands (that should be on handle bars) and screaming at you.   Forget Bahnhofsviertel and its reputation I’m terrified of the cyclists!

  • Electric scooters

Recently these have taken Frankfurt by storm and for 15 cents a minute you too can command your very own e-scooter & wizz around the city.  Things to note, you require the Tier Mobility app (or similar) to rent one.  And finally, they should be driven on the bike paths and roads at a maximum speed of 20km\hour.

In my opinion driving in Frankfurt is way easier than in London (and India) if you take it with a pinch of salt.  Like the cyclists many drivers like to shout, hmmmmm maybe I’m the problem?

Final Anecdote

  • Picture this, sitting at a traffic light for what seems like an hour as you wait for it to turn green.  Behind you cars begin to blare their hooters at you.  You sit oblivious to all the fuss and mentally curse the obnoxious drivers behind you.  Finally, one of them got out their car only to point out a pressure pad that your tire needs to roll over to initiate the green light.  This ever happened to you?  Yeah, me neither!  If however for interest sake you want to know which sign to look out for which indicates that this is in fact the case it’s the first picture in the series below!