Why The BVG Are Really Quite Cool And We Can’t Deny It
The BVG is the Berlin Verkehrsbetriebe (Berlin Transportation Company) which is a merge of the East and West transport systems after the Wall fell.
Sarcy Ads Light Up Walls in Berlin
Famed for their sarcy ads which cover the subway hallways, platforms, doorways to the BVG offices, and even within announcements on U-Bahn journeys — the BVG aim to make even the most pessimistic Berliner smirk slightly at their wit. With ‘sarcy’ I mean sarcastic (my favourite way to communicate).
Here are my favourite examples:
—-> Keep scrolling for my absolute favourite campaign from the BVG. <—-
Not everyone is convinced.
Sadly, most Germans do have a ‘glass half-full’ mentality which it is natural when you expect perfection.
For the rest of us, it’s not that bad really.
Classic BVG Complaints
The BVG haven’t always been in Berliners good books. A common complaint by most who live here is that the trains are late or cancelled or that it is too expensive. It’s true that some trains are late (the U2 and U5 struggle the most), and sometimes they do shut some lines which means you need a bus replacement…
Prices are going up as Berlin gentrifies itself *cry face* but the amount of transport options you are offered with (bus, tram, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, regional trains and even ferries) for 60-80 EUR a month including very affordable airport transport is nought to shake a stick at.
Transport to Tegel Airport (a bus for the final stretch to the front door of departures) for zone AB ticket holders is FREE. Transport to Schönefeld Airport is maximum 3,40 EUR or just 1,60 EUR if you have a monthly pass.
In London a train ticket to Gatwick from central London 25-30 GBP. In Paris the unsightly stretch to Charles de Gaulle airport in the RER B is 15 EUR.
Social Media Queens
The BVG does a great job of jumping onto complaint threads on Twitter with their ‘less serious’ account and to ‘solve’ issues with either useful information or by simply that they are indeed lacking Ordnung. . Some take this well, and laugh, and get over it, (another train is max 10 mins away), others find it distasteful and hate them more — but continue to use the service as it is actually quite reliable. They have another account which gives travel updates on Twitter and details any disruptions on metro lines.
The best part of the BVG is their dry, self-depreciating humour we all know and see on facebook. They laugh at how Berlin, despite being the capital, is quite run down and ‘poor but sexy’. Best examples of this is the Kotti d’Azur tables on the orange bins at Kottbusser Tor, an area in Kreuzberg far from having the elegance of the Cote D’Azur in France.
They also laugh at drug use openly at Fashion week and combined it with the significant snow fall In 2016 (see below).
Peak Times for Peak Time Train Tickets
Coming from the UK or any city where transport is overpriced and often not very affordable, it is difficult to fathom the reasoning behind certain complaints — unless you’ve not known any better.
For example, the pain of buying peak train tickets in the UK can often break the bank, unless you can be flexible and travel later in the day, outside of rush hours, to save around 40-50%.
In London, the tube is priced according to rush hour times and you will pay more if you travel between 7 and 9:45am.
The BVG does not have a peak time transport ticket.
A single ticket is 2,80€ and a day ticket is 7,00€.*
A monthly ticket is 84€, or around 64€ pm if you get a ‘contract’ called a Spar-Abo (link)
It’s even cheaper if you pay a lump sum for the year!
You can take an adult with you for free on the BVG trains and S-Bahn, Tram, Buses and Regional trains within A and B zones at weekends on both days and every evening after 8pm.
So in fact they have an off peak reward if you travel at 8pm with a friend who is tagging along.
The only other city to make public transport free for everyone is Luxembourg.
*prices correct on 25.04.2019
Berlin Writers x BVG
The BVG spent 3€ million in 2018 (for the year) on removing graffiti in the U-Bahn. In 2010, they added the Brandenburg Gate symbol to the windows of the U-Bahn to stop people from tagging, etching, and everything else.
Tagging trains and throwing pieces up is the ultimate daredevil game for a graffiti artist in Berlin. It’s verboten, makes a statement, and people get to see a mobile advert for their tag drive around the city endlessly. Until the BVG scrub it off relentlessly with GHB to remove the tags from Berlin Writers.
The BVG found a solution to this and decided to stick huge yellow BVG heart-shaped stickers on top of the scrawl / work of art / work in progress to detract from it and, in a way, to ‘steal’ it and make it their own. I doubt sprayers around the city of Berlin are best pleased.
Finally, what makes the BVG very unique is their sense of humour. At Christmas there is even a rave train decorated in all sorts and they even made their own sneaker collaboration with adidas, including a yearly ticket with the BVG sewn into the tongue. Who can argue they are not ‘with the times’?
Do you like the BVG? Why/why not? Do you also boycott the BVG and ride around on your bike instead?
Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. <3
And finally, my absolute favourite campaign from the BVG which was witty and perfectly aligned with their humour.