Using the public transportation system in Germany can be a convenient way to travel and explore the local area. The inner cities of Wiesbaden and Mainz and surrounding areas have an extensive network serviced by a variety of trains, buses, and trams.
However, know the rules before you get on a bus or a tram because riding without a ticket could cost €60. It helps to do some research online. The English website of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) which services the Rhein Main area, https://www.rmv.de/c/en/homepage/, offers helpful information about tickets, routes, schedules, rules and regulations, and special offers.
How to buy tickets
There are four ways to buy tickets:
1) Bus driver: Tickets can be bought directly from the bus driver, which should happen immediately upon entering the bus or tram. Please keep in mind that train drivers do not sell tickets. Riding the train always requires buying a ticket in advance. Children under 5 are free but must be accompanied by a person over 6 years old. Children between 6 and 14 years can get tickets at a reduced rate. Keep in mind that tickets bought from the driver are always already validated and do not need to be stamped in a machine on the vehicle. This is indicated with the date and time printed on the ticket. Single one-way tickets can be used until you have reached your destination on the most direct and uninterrupted route.
2) Ticket machines: These are available at most train, bus or tram stops to purchase paper tickets. Most machines allow for users to change the language to English. However, not all of them accept credit cards. Single one-way tickets purchased here are also already validated and must be used immediately. Also available are a variety of other tickets, such as monthly tickets or group tickets.
3) Smartphone app: This app must be downloaded to your mobile device and requires a credit card. After setting up an account, the app stores the user’s credit card information to purchase tickets, which are then displayed on the phone until they expire. Ticket checkers may require a valid photo ID when showing them the mobile ticket. The app also helps riders find the fastest connections to their destination and usually indicates when a connection is late or canceled.
4) RMV Ticket Shop: Some local stores also sell RMV tickets, such as week, day, month or year passes and even a collection of five single one-way tickets (“Sammelkarte”), which can be a bit cheaper than buying five single tickets separately. Please note, these are not yet validated and need to be stamped immediately in one of the orange machines on the bus or tram. They are also a bit smaller than the other tickets and do not have a date or time printed on them.
The public transportation network in Germany operates on the honor system. Travelers purchase tickets and board the bus or tram without showing the ticket to the driver or getting it scanned by a machine beforehand. However, if a person is caught by a checker without a valid ticket, it can result in a fine of around €60. Ticket checkers can appear at unpredictable times and can fine you no matter how short of a distance you traveled without a ticket.
RMV spokesperson Vanessa Rehermann said that checkers will ask for the person’s name, address, birth date, and nationality and will request to see a photo ID or passport. Fees can be paid in cash right away or within a week of the offense at an RMV office. “Members of the U.S. Army community may also be asked for their social security number and their APO,” explained Rehermann. However, Rehermann also said that checkers will not ask for any personal data if the fee is paid in cash right away.
There are numerous types of tickets:
Single tickets (Einzelfahrt): Valid for immediate travel for one person for a single one-way journey. No round-trips or long interruptions.
Onward travel ticket (Anschlussfahrt): Travelling farther than your RMV ticket zone permits. Only valid in conjunction with single or season tickets and for immediate travel.
Large group ticket: For 10 to 50 people, available as single ticket or day ticket. Rules are similar to the group day ticket and single ticket.
Supplementary ticket: Required for traveling in first class in regional trains where RMV tickets are accepted. Local buses and trams do not have first class seats.
Single day ticket/Group day ticket (Gruppen-/Tageskarte): For as many journeys as you like in one day. The group ticket is for up to five people whose names need to be written on the ticket (all travelers need to carry a valid photo ID).
Hessenticket: Day ticket, which is valid in the whole state of Hessen and select neighboring states for up to five travelers whose names need to be written on the ticket (all travelers need to carry a valid photo ID).
Weekly ticket (Wochenkarte): For as many journeys as you like within one week (seven consecutive days). After 7 p.m. and all day on holidays and weekends, you can take along one additional adult and as many children under 15 as you like free of charge. Special rates are available for school students and apprentices.
Monthly ticket (Monatskarte): For as many journeys as you like within one month. After 7 p.m. and all day on holidays and weekends, you can take along one additional adult and as many children under 15 as you like free of charge. Special rates available for school students and apprentices.
9 a.m. monthly tickets for adults (9 Uhr Monatskarte): 25% cheaper than the regular monthly ticket. Valid Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until midnight and all day on weekends and public holidays. One person travels free with the holder during evenings and weekends.
65-plus monthly ticket (65-plus-Monatskarte): For people 65 years and older. Proof of age required. Rules are similar to the monthly ticket.
Annual tickets (Jahreskarte): Available in two types: annual season ticket and the cheaper 9 a.m. annual season ticket.
VAT forms are not accepted, according to Rehermann. Public transportation in Germany is only taxed with 8% value added tax.
Strollers and Bicycles
Bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers and electrically operated scooters are permitted on buses and trams with wider doors. No extra charges apply. However, passengers with bicycles have no entitlement to take their bikes along when there is not enough room on the bus or tram.
How to get from A to B
The easiest way to find out which bus to use and which stops are closest to your starting point and destination is to look on the RMV website or the mobile app. The website’s sub-page “Stations and Stops” lets users search for desired bus stops and even shows nearby stops, as well as regional trains, buses, and trams that service this location. The site also shows a list of upcoming departures and arrivals. The interactive map lets users put their starting point and destination into the travel planner, which then searches for the shortest route, bus number and connecting bus, tram or regional train, as well as delays or cancellations. Passengers can also download a pocket guide “Enjoy the Ride” in English, which explains different alternatives for finding the best connections.
Riders should also pay attention to which side of the street their stop is on. Sometimes transfers can require some searching or crossing the street.
For Clay Kaserne, the closest bus stops are “Wiesbaden Delkenheim, Domäne Mechtildshausen” or “Wiesbaden Erbenheim, Flugplatz,” serviced by bus 28.
The RMV network not only includes local buses and trams, it also lets ticketholders use certain regional trains. However, it is best to always check with a ticket agency or information booth at the local train station to make sure the purchased regional ticket is valid for the desired destination. As a rule of thumb, never board an ICE train with an RMV regional ticket.