Bus system in Wiesbaden (also the Greater Frankfurt Area Including Mainz and surrounding suburbs)

This guide reads a little like “How to Ride a Bus” rather than “Riding the Bus in Wiesbaden” because I feel that not many American ex-pats are familiar with public transportation, or haven’t had to use it in the past, and therefore are hesitant to try. Riding the bus in Germany/Europe is not like most bus systems in the US; they are more frequently run, with more vehicles per line, and they cover more distance. I take the bus everyday (I know, I should ride my freaking bike) and have run into a few snags, but due to issues like traffic, which are out of the bus driver’s control. There’s normally always a place to sit, you can take your bike on busses (not during rush hour) and bus stops are numerous. At almost every major inner-city stop is an electronic panel displaying the time to the next bus on each line that serves that stop.

However, to make life a little more confusing, the company that runs the utilities and the company that runs the busses, is the same or at least, uses the same name, and that can be difficult to work out at first. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how the trains, busses, or ESWE itself are all interlinked, but it’s a great system and works well. If you use Mint or a credit card to pay either of these things, “Eswe Versorgungs Ag” is your utility payment and “Eswe Verkehrs Gmbh” is your bus ticket. You are looking for Eswe RMV if you google this (or click here).  RMV bus routes take you all around the Greater Frankfurt Area and includes regional SBahn trains as well. On the front page there’s a destination planner; usually the bus stops are labeled with “WI” or “MZ” or another city abbreviation to differentiate if there is more than one bus stop with the same name.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 4.37.36 PM

The bus driver will not ask to see your ticket and you can get on and off at any door, but if there’s an agent on board you’d better have a proof of purchase ready. These are random checks and in four months of riding the bus I’ve only been asked once. The fine is €40 without a ticket; you can certainly take the risk and not buy one, but then again you are riding public transportation without paying so is that the most socially responsible decision? If you’re boarding with a pre-purchased paper ticket, make sure to insert it into one of the nondescript orange or yellow boxes to have it stamped with the date and time otherwise it is not considered a valid journey. It does not matter which way end or side up you punch it.

Ticket options and prices:

  1. For the quick ride – If you need to hop on quick or don’t feel like walking, the one-way ticket is best. It’s the most basic ticket and it’s also the ticket the bus driver will give you by default unless you specify “return”. This ticket will cost either €1,60 or €2,70 depending on distance and age.*Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 5.22.29 PM
  2. For the tourist – the best for the day of tourism, the day ticket costs €6,50 for an adult and €3,80 for kids. There are group discounts as well.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 5.17.45 PM
  3. For a temporary bus need – car is in service, car is being borrowed, have just moved and don’t have car, the weekly ticket is a good one. Cost is €22,45 for adults. Good for 7 consecutive days and weekends/evenings are free.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 5.19.08 PM
  4. For the daily commuter – Monthly passes are a great deal, expensive upfront but the math checks out for two trips a day. They cost €76,40 for adults; there other prices classes that depend on type of day, I’ve stuck with this one in the past (and so has Zach pre-VW Golf era).Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 5.19.32 PM
  5. For die-hard bus fans – the yearly card is your ticket; €764,00 a year.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 5.25.19 PM

There are a few different ways to purchase tickets:

  1. You can always pay on the bus – tell the bus driver the name of the stop you’re going to; they will enter that into their system and print a ticket for you. I do not know if the bus gives change for paper money, I recommend having coins at the ready.
  2. At certain bus stops – some bus stops (like the ones marked on this map) have ticket kiosks. Sometimes these take credit cards, but not always. Giro/EC card and cash/coin are your best bets here.
  3. Eswe Info Center at the train station – here you can purchase any type of ticket, including the monthly passes, and ask questions. If you are coming into town off the train and need a bus to your final destination, see these people first.
  4. Online – I’m not sure why you would choose this option, unless you are highly organized and already live here but don’t have the time to get your tickets in person, but nevertheless online is available. Direct link to purchase here.
  5. SEPA – only applies if you have a bank account with an IBAN.
  6. There is an electronic bus card with a chip, I have not investigated this closely because I use #7 below.
  7. This incredibly awesome app – this is the best; If you know me IRL you know my obsession with all things wireless and in the cloud. Also, Google. I’ve linked to the Android version because Apple is an incredibly frustrating platform is just OK. In order to use this app, you need to have an account with RMV and you need to have it installed and linked on your phone. Purchase tickets when you actually get on the bus, while you’re waiting at the stop, while you’re in the cafe an hour before the bus, all ticket types are available. This will also track your SMILES reward points if you sign up for this option when your make your online account.

Here’s where to make an account online for SMILES and e-payment.

Here are some maps:

General link to train maps

Wiesbaden city bussesGreater Wiesbaden busses

Interactive map

Maps of Wiesbaden

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 6.28.09 PM
So many options

*In the description it definitely says “Mit der Freundin verplaudert und zu spät los gegangen?” which is basically “Were you chatting with the girlfrands and lost track of time and now have to run to your next appointment?” in a sassy tone.

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