Thursday, 14 January 2021

Thameslink "Tube" - Better In Berlin? (vier)

 Where Have All The Trams Gone?

The BVG home page offers "Travel Information" which brings up something of a mixed bag of a list.
We know the "route map" gives us the U-Bahn and S-Bahn network and it is not beyond the wit of an enquirer to work out what Busmap provides.
It is packed with information and includes (in grey) interchange with all the other city modes. There are some quite sweet drawings of key places of interest as well.
So you would guess that this style of map follows the way that people might use buses; namely as a link to U/S-Bahn or for very local journeys.

Likewise, the "M" trams are there, also in grey - but no tram map as such. 

Where have all the trams gone?

Of course, Transport for London doesn't want you to know where the buses go, unless you are a regular when you are expected to just know. So very much one-up to Berlin!

Although not shown on the home page, there is another menu next to the bus map.
And, quite well hidden from an inexperienced user, is the tram map that fbb found yesterday by asking the internet direct.

In this case U-Bahn and S_Bahn routes are shown in grey but not bus or regional rail.

fbb thinks that, despite some benefits with a simple universal fares package, also shown in the same list as the trams (above), the presentation, as in London, is too complicated.
Just three concentric blocks of shading show the whole fares structure very cleanly and tidily. Compare this with the so-called "Tube" map.

In London, it is a "bonnie stramash", as Mrs fbb might well say. It would be simple and positive to create a small number of concentric zones, like Berlin - even if it meant a redraw of the line diagram to make it easy.

So Berlin wins with fares and simple zones - wins hands down.

Like London, however, Berlin struggle with what to integrate with what and how to present it. But the sensible thing would be to have the four networks, tram, bus, U-Bahn and S-Bahn shown on four clear but separate blocks of info. There already is a joint U/S map, the bus map makes mention of U/S and tram and the tram map shown connections with U/S.

Where is the regional rail map? The "proper" DB trains provide express routes from suburbs to city centre stations but both BVG and S-Bahn ignores them in any useful detail. Likewise, longer distance buses remain a mystery on the main Berlin site.

With a bit of thought it could be better explained and better revealed to a struggling user.

As a complete network service, and apart from fares, fbb reckons it is a draw!

But there is one feature of the S-Bahn site ...
... and you find it by clicking on the "folding map" icon at the top left of the route diagram.

An there you have the best public transport map fbb has ever encountered. At low resolution it looks daunting ...
... but, as you click on the plus sign, you begin to realise that your are zooming into a fully detailed geographical street map of Berlin ...
... with networks over-printed. It even shows individual bus stops.
That is the line with a dot at the end, similarly at Wannsee!
Sadly, it doesn't show individual bus route numbers - but, thanks to the independent web from a separate operator, it is a DB production for S-Bahn, U-Bahn and Regio rail routes.

But think how wonderful it would be if it DID show every bus and tram route number.

And, what is more, a fully scaleable map of London's transport networks would eliminate, at a stroke, the inconsistencies and clutter of the new "Tube" map.

But, hang on a sec ...
Routemap is the joint U/S-Bahn dagram; so what is Citymap? Answer; terrifying!
But scale in and things get better.
Everything is there; S-Bahn (GREEN), U-Bahn (BLUE), Regional Rail (RED), buses (MAUVE) and trams,(as buses but PALE MAUVE lines). It is all there IF you can follow it.
Wannsee even shows F10 (PALE BLUE), a ferry service!
So, the answer is simple (?). Combine the excellent map and scaleability of the S-Bahn "everything" map with the bus, tram and rail detail on the U-Bahn "everything" map, link each station, line and bus route to its timetable and you have something that can be of use.

Could it ever happen in London?

Of course it could, but it never will as it would involve the various operators working together and, simply, that would never do!


In a few days we will ask the same type of questions in a series of blogs entitled "Perfection in Paris?"

The S-Bahn web site includes some pictures of the current fleet ...
... new ...
... and newer ...
... and newest,
There are also heritage trains, some of which offer tours and excursions. Here an old lady from the UK enjoys a tourist ride ...
The train, currently out of service, has been rebuilt with observation windows allowing an upward view.
Now, how about something like that for sightseeing trips round the Overground "circle"?

 Next PPP blog : Friday 15th January 


  1. The population of London is roundly 9+ million; the population of Berlin is roundly 3.5m. I don't know how many commuters Berlin has from outside, but let's say that London is roundly 3 times the size of Berlin.
    That will make the provision of information by map or poster much easier, if only because the scale of the map can be larger.
    Part of the problem in London is that it is just so large and has such a comprehensive transport system . . . it is increasingly obvious that a complete re-think is needed.

    Might I suggest:
    1. Tube lines to be named and coloured as now.
    2. Commuter lines to be coloured by TOC, and then shown as "routes" (apart from inside Clapham Jct; London Bridge; Stratford and so on, where so show all the routes would be excessively complex).
    3. There should also be a set of "local" maps; perhaps based on the quadrants as before . . . these would be very comprehensive with all Tube; Rail and Bus routes (but not school or night routes . . . school routes are too bespoke, and parents can get information from schools, and night buses can have their own London-wide map).

    Yes, this looks like going backwards to what has been before, but actually these previous maps
    WERE fit for purpose, and would be much better than the confusion now.

    Of course it'll never happen . . . nobody ever accepts that something that happened before is better than what they come up with!!
    Still, we can dream . . . .

  2. Just a minor point. The "M" routes in Berlin can be either tram or bus - the M indicates a Metro level of frequency.

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