Sunday, 3 January 2016

Konstanz, Germany

The historic city of Konstanz lies towards the western end of Lake Constance (Bodensee in German), one of Europe's largest lakes.  Konstanz is only just within Germany, as the Swiss border runs to the south of the city centre.

Konstanz' city buses

With a population of around 80,000 people, Konstanz has a public transport system comprising a network of bus routes.  These are provided by the municipal undertaking, Stadtwerke Konstanz (website only in German).

When I visited Konstanz in September 2015, articulated buses were used on most services.   These buses have three sets of doors.

Most of the buses carry a red livery with extensive advertising.  Some are in fully advertising colours.  These examples promote ferries on the lake (left) and Konstanz' spa (below).

Conversely, I did find a small minority of buses carrying no advertising at all.

As well as articulated buses, a small number of standard three-door single-deckers also operate on the streets of Konstanz.



Konstanz' city bus routes are numbered from 1 to 15, and 908.

Routes 1 to 15 operate into Konstanz' suburbs, to the north of the city, and stay entirely within Germany.

The 908 heads south, crossing the border into Switzerland to the neighbouring town of Kreuzlingen.

Standard single-deck buses are used on this service.

In the evenings, route 908 doesn't operate.  A cross-border service is maintained in the evenings by route 925.  This is provided by Swiss PostAuto.

I observed a minibus in use on this service.

Neither the 908 nor the 925 operate across the border on Sundays.


Fares and tickets

As in much of Germany, fares are based on a zonal tariff system.  In and around Konstanz, this is co-ordinated by Verkehrsverbund Hegau-Bodensee (VHB - website in German only).

Konstanz lies within a single zone.  Within Konstanz (and over the border into Kreuzlingen), a single fare costs €2.30 at 2016 prices.  Interchange is permitted, although other breaks of journey are not.

An all-day ticket allowing unlimited travel is priced at €4.50, making it cheaper than two individual single tickets.  A family all-day ticket offers better value still, priced at €7.80.

Single tickets can also be bought in advance, in packs of 6 or 20.  These packs work out cheaper than buying tickets individually.  Tickets are validated using a validator when boarding the bus.

During the daytimes, buses operate on an "open boarding" principle with passengers boarding by any door.

Random ticket checks are in operation to deter fare evasion.

In the evenings, boarding is via the front doors only, supervised by the driver.

At the time I took this image, routes 4 and 13 were combined in the evenings only to form a circular service.

Since December 2015, the daytime service also operates to this pattern.

Regional buses

A limited number of bus services operates into Konstanz from points further north.

Several of the buses I saw were carrying the red livery of DeutscheBahn.


I also found one in the white and red variant of DeutscheBahn colours.

There was one which had no DeutscheBahn branding at all.


These services form part of the regional transport network co-ordinated by VHB.  VHB's zonal tariffs apply.  The fare depends on the number of zones you travel through, with single, all-day and longer period tickets available. 


Long-distance coaches operate into Konstanz from destinations in Germany and Switzerland.

The coach terminal at Döbeleplatz is a short walk from the old town.  It is little more than a parking area, with next to no facilities.

On the water

Passenger ferries onto the lake operate from a harbour close to the old town and Konstanz' railway station.

A catamaran links Konstanz with the town of Friedrichshafen, on the north shore of the lake.

The catamaran operates all year round, to an hourly frequency seven days a week.

A number of services aimed more at day-trippers and tourists operate from Konstanz.

BSB (website in German only) link Konstanz with a number of destinations on the lake, in Germany, Switzerland and at the far end of the lake, Austria.

These ships operate from around Easter to  October.  There are no sailings during the winter months.

Schifffahrt Untersee und Rhein (URH) sail from Konstanz down the Rhine to Schaffhausen up to 4 times a day.

Like the BSB ships, this service runs from Easter to October.

To the north of the city, a vehicle-carrying ferry links Konstanz with Meersburg.  This ferry is operated by Stadtwerke Konstanz (website in German only).

The ferry between Konstanz and Meersburg generally runs every 15 minutes from early morning to mid-evening, dropping to an hourly service through the night, 365 days a year.

Two of the regional bus routes operating into Konstanz use the ferry from and to Meersburg.

Meersburg and the places beyond are outside the area covered by VHB's tariff system.  Separate fares apply for travel to and beyond Meersburg on these bus routes.

The ferry is also used by long-distance coaches, including double-deckers.

Over the border

Although the German-Swiss border lies between them, the town of Kreuzlingen adjoins Konstanz.

As mentioned earlier, route 908 links Konstanz with Kreuzlingen.

As well as the 908, Kreuzlingen has a small network of town bus routes, numbered 901 to 904 and 907.

Of the buses I saw on Kreuzlingen's town network, several were hybrid-powered single-deckers with three sets of doors.

A couple of standard diesel-powered buses were also in use.


The buses are timetabled to converge at Bärenplatz, enabling passengers to interchange easily between services.

Swiss PostAuto operate a couple of services heading out of Kreuzlingen to places nearby.  I found single-deck buses operating these services.

Full-length vehicles with three sets of doors were in use on route 923 to Altnau and Güttingen.

On route 924 to Weinfelden, I found shorter-length buses with two sets of doors.

Both these routes start from Kreuzlingen's railway station.  Timetables are well-coordinated, with the buses timed to connect to and from half-hourly trains in four directions.

Some (but not all) of Kreuzlingen's town bus services also serve the railway station.

Information about all Kreuzlingen's bus services can be found on the Bambus (bahn-mit-bus) website (in German only).

Fares and tickets in Kreuzlingen

Fares on public transport in Kreuzlingen and the surrounding parts of Switzerland are coordinated by the Ostwind tariff association (website only in German).  A zonal system is used with single fares starting at CHF3.10 for a journey within one zone.  Within Kreuzlingen, however, a lower fare of CHF2.30 is available, valid for 30 minutes.  As in Konstanz, a single ticket allows unlimited interchanges within its area of validity until its expiry time.

All-day tickets are also available, with prices starting from CHF6.20 for one zone.

Single zone tickets covering Kreuzlingen are also valid over the border in the Konstanz zone.  Similarly, single zone tickets for Konstanz are also valid in Kreuzlingen.  It appears that this cross-border validity applies only to single-zone tickets; tickets valid for two or more zones are not valid for cross-border travel between Konstanz and Kreuzlingen.

However, tickets for combinations of zones of both VHB in Germany and Ostwind in Switzerland are available, for single journeys and as all-day tickets. 

Ferries from Kreuzlingen

From early Spring until mid-Autumn, ferries operate from Kreuzlingen to other destinations on the lake, and to Konstanz and down the Rhine to Schaffhausen.


The route to Schaffhausen is operated by URH, while boats to destinations on the lake are provided by Schweizerische Bodensee Schifffahrt (SBS - website in German only).

These services cater primarily to tourists and day-trippers, with special fares applying.  During the winter months, no ferries call at Kreuzlingen.

Travelling around the lake

Konstanz and Kreuzlingen are in the area covered by the EURegio Bodensee Tageskarte.  This ticket covers the area around Lake Constance in three overlapping zones, allowing a day's unlimited travel on bus and train services, the Konstanz-Meersburg ferry and one other ferry on the lake, within the relevant zone(s), stretching into Austria as well as Germnay and Switzerland.

I will be writing in more detail about the EURegio Bodensee Tageskarte in a future post - watch this space!

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