“ ZTM (Warsaw Transport Authority). The metro, buses and trams are operated by one company, thusly you need to only buy one ticket which is applicable for all public transport. „
Warsaw transport - is it any good? Yes, it is and very reliable too. I don't think I have lived anywhere where I have relied on public transport so much - maybe Sheffield. In fact, we don't really use a car any more except for longer journeys, holidays and picking heavy shopping up from Arkadia and such places. There is no need for a car in the city and in winter it is a pain in the ass with changing tyres, moving snow and stopping the inside of the car from freezing up. I know it's not as bad as the Ice Truckers in Yellowknife, Canada but it's not far off.
There are three main forms of public transport; buses, trams and the Metro. All good, reasonably priced and punctual.
Let's start with the buses; this is a well developed system with buses travelling throughout the city and to the outskirts. At peak times roads can get hectic and as there aren't enough bus lanes buses do get stuck in traffic jams. They also get packed but most of the buses are new and in good condition so they are very safe.
Most drivers are okay and not too grumpy but they won't wait for you if they see you coming towards the bus and they are due to leave - they will just drive off. Also they don't give you long to get off the bus so if you are elderly or struggling with a pram you have to be quick or else the doors will close. I have seen many an argument with passengers and drivers because of this incident. I think I have even had one myself.
Before you get on the bus this is what you should remember to do:
Buy a ticket.......
These can be purchased from kiosks, some shops, transport office at Ratusz Arsenal, automated ticket machines on popular routes, on line and from the driver. I have never bought one from the driver but have seen people do it. I am always worried about the reception I would get asking for a ticket. I can't be doing with grumpy drivers so have always avoided this scenario. I read somewhere that there is a surcharge of 0.50zl when purchasing from the driver so bear this in mind. Not a fortune but it all adds up.
All tickets should have the words ZTM Warszawa written across the top and remember it is only valid if it has been punched or validated. The validation machines are attached to a vertical handrail on the bus near the doors - you just push the ticket through, it makes a buzzing noise and Bob's your Uncle. Inspectors do get on and are very thorough. Note they don't all wear uniforms and sometimes are dressed like normal folks - very sneaky! If you are caught without a ticket it is a big showdown and they take you off the bus, ask for identity, give you a telling off and you have to pay a fine of 120zloty (about £25) while everybody is staring at you. I haven't been fined - well not in Warsaw but I have seen other people suffer this embarrassment.
Tickets for buses, trams and the Metro are identically priced and the ticket types are:
Czasowe - time
Jednorazowe - disposable
Krótkookresowe - short -term
Dlugookresowe - long-term.
I generally buy short term tickets which cost 2 zloty for a 20 minute ride on the same line. If I need to go further then I buy a day ticket (Bilet Dobowy Normalny) for 9zloty. I only really travel in Zone 1 area which is central. If you wish to travel out of the city then you have to buy a ticket for Zone 1 and Zone 2.
To buy tickets on-line you go to this website; http://www.ztm.waw.pl/mock.php?c=174&l=1 and follow the instructions. There is an option for English Translation.
To buy tickets at the automated machine it is simple enough. The machine is computerised with a touch screen pad. There is an English and German option and you just follow the instructions. The ticket types mentioned above are shown, you just tap the one you want and the price comes up. If you want to buy more than one ticket you add the number you want and the computer does the maths. There is the option of paying by cash and the machine will accept notes, small change and you can even pay by credit card.
For visitors to the city it is best to buy a three day, 7 day or 14 day ticket obviously depending on how long you are staying for. Make sure you get one for Zone 1 and Zone 2 just in case you want to visit out of the city centre and yes we do have some beautiful parks outside Warsaw as well as in the centre. If you fancy staying a month then do what my husband does and buy a long term ticket for 30 days which costs 78 zloty at the moment. There is also a 90 day ticket. For both these options you have to go to the ticket office at Ratusz Arsenal and show a form if ID like a passport or Identity Card.
I'm not going to list all the ticket prices because that is a bit long winded and they are going up soon just in time for the European Championships so I will give you the link to the web site: http://www.ztm.waw.pl/?c=110&l=1
What else can I tell you about our buses? There are three types:
Black Number - means this is a regular service and stops at all stops
Red Number - Speedy service stopping at selected stops on the same regular routes
Black square with white numbers followed by N - you've got it - night buses. These don't stop - you have to wave them down!
There are also two other types of buses; E for Express and buses showing the numbers 700-799. These are suburban buses which travel to the outer parts of the city.
Sometimes a bus will come along and a tram too bearing a yellow number plate. This means that the route has been changed and the revised route will be fixed on to the bus/tram window.
If you see these words 'zjazd do zajedni' on the front of a bus or tram don't put your hand out or bang on the door. You can't travel on these as they are returning to the depot.
That's the run down on the buses - I prefer to travel by tram but my husband loves Warsaw's buses. He travels into the city a lot more than I do and he says they are very comfortable and don't get as packed as the trams.
My favourite form of transport but only in the winter as they are too hot and smelly in the summer. A few times I have been travelling across town in July and felt physically sick with the heat and the smell of BO from other travellers. Wicked!
We still have a lot of old trams on all lines throughout the city and although very nice to look at they are a bit cronky and you do get thrown around if you are stood up. These have heating but it is quite poor in the winter and I find the older trams much colder than the newer models. The seats are hard and if you are on a long journey you will find that your bum aches at the end of it. Things to look out for:
Smelly tramps - there are a lot around and boy, they do stink. It isn't unusual for passengers to get up and move down to the other end of the tram to escape the odour of wee and poo, sometimes vomit. It is sad but a fact of city life. It used to make me feel icky at first but I have become used to it.
Old ladies built like wrestlers - I say this tongue in cheek but until you have encountered a Polish old lady on a bus or tram you won't have any idea of what I am talking about. They are tyrannical - rush to get all the seats even if they are fit and push everybody else out of the way. When stood next to one you will find yourself suffocated between huge breasts sagging and swaying to the rhythm of the tram and the smell of sweet perfume which is enough to make you keel over. Not a pleasant experience.
Children who take up all the seats. It is traditional for children under the age of 12 to sit on seats on a tram or bus. In UK I think a mother would sit the child on her knee or make the child stand up. Not here - children and old people come first which I guess is a good thing in a way but irritating when you are knackered and need to sit down.
The practical info regarding the trams is the same as the buses except there are no night trams. Trams run between 5am and 11pm. Be careful though on some routes. I have been caught out before on my way home to Wola from Ratusz - jumped on a tram at 10.20pm to come home suddenly when it got to Tesco's instead of turning right to my road it went straight on to Wolska. That was in the days when I didn't know the city and I panicked - ran all the way home scared to death. Warsaw still has a reputation of being dangerous at night which I never believed and took with a pinch of salt but I think it is true.
A new system has been introduced on some lines where tram arrival times are displayed and their destination at the tram stop. I like this electronic gadget - at least you know how long you have to wait.
Overall, I like travelling on trams the best as it is the quickest way to get through the city especially through the rush hour as buses and cars cannot travel on the tramlines unlike Zargreb in Croatia where it is a nightmare with all forms of transport darting on the tramlines.
Finally the Metro.
Things are changing as far as Warsaw's underground is concerned. We only have one line at the moment travelling north to south from Ursynow to Bielany so you won't lose your way. The second line is being built to be finished in time for the Euro Football Championships 2012. The new line will connect Wola (where I live) and Praga (my favourite district). After 2012 the line will develop more and spread to other districts of the city.
I have only travelled on the Metro a few times since I moved here 4 years ago. It's okay, very nice and clean and the trains are modern, punctual and very comfortable equipped with TV screens showing advertisements and short films. Trains run from 5am until 12pm every weekday. During busy hours trains run every 3 minutes and in the evening every 10 minutes. At weekends the train service runs until 3am with trains running every 15 minutes. Ticket information is the same as it is for buses and trams and you can use the same website as above which is an excellent site with loads of detail.
Currency conversion: 1 PLN = 0.221798 GBP = 1 GBP = 4.50861 PLN
Hope this info helps for visitors to Warsaw especially for those coming over to watch the football.
Zapraszamy na wycieczke (enjoy your trip).
Warsaw is becoming a more popular destination day by day, whether it is business men visiting for work purposes, oldies on coach trips, stag do's or young backpackers there's plenty of people around.
Using a public transport system abroad can always be a bit worrying for some people, so here's the low down on public transport in the capital of Poland.
There's currently one metro line which runs through the centre from Marymont in the north, to the most southern district of the city Kabaty in the south. There are plans to have more lines in place by the time Euro 2012 comes knocking, whether that will materialise we will see!
The metro is clean, new and modern, tickets should be bought from a kiosk, validate your ticket, go through the barrier and that's it, only 2 directions so you are unlikely to get lost, there are maps both upstairs and on the platforms of the stations.
You don't need to do anything to the ticket on the way out, just walk through the turnstiles.
Bus lines run across the city and in some cases outside of the city to surrounding towns such as Marki or Piaseczno. Day buses run from 5am to about 11.45pm at which point the routes are lessened and night buses take to the streets (denoted with the letter N before a 2 digit number), each bus comes once every 30 minutes and there are often 2 routes on 1 road, which means you shouldn't have to wait longer than 15 minutes for a bus during the night in most parts of the city.
All buses head to the Central Station and meet there at the same time, giving you a few minutes to find your bus if you live in a different part of the city.
Again, tickets should be bought in advance from a kiosk, you can in theory also purchase them from the driver but he is not obliged to sell you the ticket, particularly if the bus is late and may refuse or may be out of them. Kiosks are not usually open after 7-8pm and night buses are quite often inspected, the fine can be quite high (120zl - 30 pounds) and I've never known anyone get away with not paying, the most recommendable way of getting out of it would be to carry ID with you and claim you don't have cash, they should in theory give you a written fine which you then have to take to an office and pay. Obviously if you are visitng, you can skip the visit to that office ;)
The same ticketing system applies to the trams which run throughout the cities in all different directions, ironically the brand new ones seem somewhat less reliable than the old models!
The public transport company has a website where you can check the timetables and routes of all the transport in the city.
Go to www.ztm.waw.pl, click on "Rozklad Jazdy" and then WG Linii and select the 1st or 2nd choice depending on what date it is. If you don't know the number of the bus you want but no the destination then it may be preferable to click on Wg przystankow, select the date and then click on the name of the stop that is listed alphabetically.
I definitely recommend buying a map of the city which can be purchased for about 4 or 5zl (1 -1.25 pounds), most maps cover all the public transport routes but maps by Copernicus or Demart are recommended.
It is custom to give up your seat for old people, who may pester you with a pesky kidsesque tirade if you don't!
Hold on tight unless you want your head flying into a buxom busom of a poker faced gran!
The system itself is ok, you can generally count on it, there's always transport close by but it does tend to get a bit hot in the summer. An enlarged underground system would definitely be a blessing.