Sunday, 5 April 2015
Getting Around Prague
I've been asked to write some posts about practical issues, such as how do I get around, when the only car I can use at the moment is a hire one. The answer is the excellent public transport system here, Let's start with Prague.
The first thing to say is that it makes no sense to have a car in Prague, unless possibly if you live in the outskirts. The public transport system is really good and cheap.
First there is the metro system - the equivalent if London's tube but with only three colour-coded lines - red, yellow and green. Then there are the trams - there are more of these and they have the added advantage of taking you past a load of interesting sights. I am, as you will have gathered, a fan of Prague's trams. And finally there are buses, which you tend to see in Prague suburbs. If you are a visitor to the city you may only use a bus going to the airport or Prague Zoo.
I plan to talk about each of these modes of transport in dedicated blog posts, so for this post let us focus on getting around generally on the Prague Public Transport System. The first thing to say is the system is integrated - you buy one ticket for all forms of transport. The basic ticket currently costs 32kc and allows you up to 90 minutes travel, during which you can jump on and off trams, metro trains and buses and combinations thereof. If you only want to make a short (max 30 minute) journey you can opt for a 24kc ticket.
The key thing to note is that the timer starts when you validate your ticket at the beginning of the journey. You will find yellow validation machines as you enter the metro station or train. On one end of the ticket you will find a blank space with arrows, slide this end into the machine face up until you hear the machine stamp the ticket. You must do this or face being fined. There are plenty of ticket inspectors working Prague's public transport and they don't care that you aren't a local, quite the opposite.
So where do you buy tickets? You will find ticket vending machines in metro stations and at the main tram stops (but not all of the latter). You need coins for the machines. To buy more than one ticket press the button as many times as you want tickets. You can also buy tickets in some newsagents and at various information centres, including the one in the arrivals lounge at the airport. It is a good idea to buy multiple tickets from these centres, as you will not make yourself popular with Prague commuters if you spend ages fumbling coins into the automatic machines.
If you don't see your fellow passengers validating tickets, it is because they very sensibly have bought a season ticket. There are tourist tickets available for 24 hrs and 72 hrs (110kc and 310kc). The next ticket up is the monthly season, but at 550kc if you are staying for a week it is still worth getting.
The Prague Transport System has an excellent website - the English version is here: http://www.dpp.cz/en/
The website offers maps and other information, up-to-date news of any works and diversions and an online journey planner.