Saturday, July 4, 2009

Getting Around Town

Brno has a public transit system that, so far, seems very thorough. From my temporary studio at Božetěchova, in the Královo Pole district, it’s about a 5-minute walk to the Tylova stop for tram line #1. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the city center. Now that I’m getting the hang of the tram I think I will start experimenting with transferring between trams, city buses and trolley cars to really get around. In Czech, a tram is a tramvaj. However, in Brno, the local dialect for tram is šalina (pronounced shalina).

Here are some basics on getting around on the šalina…

A tram comes about every 8 minutes Monday to Friday during rush hours and then every 10 – 15 minutes thereafter. Buses run every 7 – 15 minutes during the week and every 10 – 30 minutes on the weekends. The buses operate 24 hours a day but the special night buses leave every 30 -60 minutes depending on the line. Hlavní nádraží is the main railway station and the central interchange point for all of the night trams & buses.

The length of time you travel and the number of zones you cross determines the price of a ticket. As long as you stay within your time limit you can transfer as many times as you like between trams, buses and trains.

You buy tickets at the railway station, at newsstands, tobacco shops, or at outdoor coin-op vending machines. You can also buy a ticket directly from the driver but there is a convenience charge when you do this.

When you get on the šalina you have to time stamp your ticket in the yellow box by the door. It prints the time, date, and zone you entered on. You do not stamp it again if you transfer but you must keep your ticket until your ride is over. Most of Brno is in zones 100 & 101 which all of the tickets cover. You have to buy pricier tickets in order to hit the suburbs.

So far, I have been using 10-minute and 60-minute tickets to get around. The prices are 14 kč and 22 kč (right now $1 USD = 18.5 kč) respectively. There are 3, 7, 14 & 30-day tickets but I do not know if I can get those at the newsstand. Once I know where I will be living at then I will go to the railway station to buy a long-term ticket. You need a passport-size photo and your identity card/passport but it is cheaper to buy a pass for 1, 3 or 12-months.
Apparently, there are plainclothes inspectors who can ask for your ticket at any time. If you do not have a valid ticket or a pass then they can fine you €33 (around $46) on the spot.

You have to listen for the name of the upcoming stop because not all of the trams/buses have the digital display board showing what the next stop is. When you hear your stop coming up you have to press the button to let the driver know you want to get off. Of course, during rush hour it’s really a moot point because there are people getting on & off. Nevertheless, during the slow times…push the button so that the doors will open.
People here always give up their seat for the elderly, handicapped and pregnant women. It seems to just be understood who gives up a seat to whom. I tried being chivalrous and offered my seat to a rather thin woman in her late twenties yesterday and through sign language she let me know that it wasn’t necessary because she isn’t pregnant. She kind of giggled so I don’t think I offended her. With a little more people watching I should get the hang of things.

1 comment:

  1. The system of giving up your seats: You always give up your seat to people who are older than 50 years. Leaving seat for younger people is not necessary. There is a row who leaves his place first: teenagers, then others, 50+ yrs old people do not leave:) If there are none of teens or the granny cant walk another step or teens dont bother to leave their places - then it is your turn. You can also teach younger people their manners if they dont leave their places... grannys usually join in:D

    Sometimes you will see men over 20 dont give up their seats... dont tell them:) Even grannys are silent:) Some proud individuals needs to be asked

    You dont give up your seat to younger healthy person! You give up the place ONLY to people who deserve it more than you. So if you think that lady with 2 young kids (or with heavy luggage) needs the place more than you its ok. Younger ladys no matter how pretty doesnt deserve the place more than you if you were czech they would think of it as slimy probably (if they liked you they would consider it chivalry but there is a thin line you know:)

    Easy rule: give it up to persons 20 years older than you! If you dont give up your place it doesnt matter, maybe you will get angry look from another granny but that is all:)...

    you havent though it is so easy, have you?:D