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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Why I Love Public Transport In Krakow

Dear friends,

When you live in a big city and you need to travel from one remote place to the other, sometimes you need to have alternative and variate means of transport, according to each case. Let's say that you, like myself, have no driving licence and hence own no car: by default one of the fastest and most comfortable ways to reach any given place in town is already cut out. That leaves you at the mercy of public or private transport means inside the city - unless you cycle and are fit enough to move fast and withstand the weather changes... Big cities will always need good public transport means - be it metro, bus and/or tram - due to its extensive spread and high number of people living (not to mention visiting). Now I have been travelling quite a bit inside my country and both outside (over the ocean as well...) so to gather what good public transport really means. I have also checked out the way public transport has developed over the last 5 years in Poland, Krakow and I must admit it: "I Love Public Transport in Kraków!"
Now let me tell you why I love it:
  1. The extended network - everywhere you are, in Kraków and the surrounding areas, the buses will always reach you and be there for you. The MPK - Public Transport in Kraków - developed the split between Kraków and it's surrounding cities, satellite cities, as Area 1 and Area 2. Area 1 - Strefa 1 is specifically for Kraków & Area 2 - Strefa 2 is for the satellite cities/small towns like Wieliczka (where the salt mine is located), Zabierzow (where the Krakow Business Park is located) or Balice (John Paul the 2nd International Airport). Of course getting through Strefa 2 takes a lot of time and there are many bus stops along the way, but the fact that you have this posibility (for people who go to work daily) is great. 
  2. The "free time" that you can spend doing something else, meaningful, for you - let's face it, either way at a certain point in time you will be stuck in traffic or the road from A to B will take quite a long while. For example, from home to work it takes me about 30-40 minutes of tram+train ride. Now at the beginning I used to consider it as "wasted time" until I figured out... why not do something for myslef?! That's when I started writing my blog posts during my transit. Sometimes I write and sometimes I just take a book with me and read - the time will pass faster and you will be there in no time and with "homework" done ;) I have seen people learning a different language during that, or watching their favourite TV show - you can pick and choose the best for you.
  3. The low amount of stress - when you bike or you drive the car you need to be careful about the road, about other people, always have distributive attention; in public transport you just need to be in time for the bus/ tram and pick a seat and no stress related to driving will be on your shoulders. You are a passenger and you know that there is a certain amount of time to get from one place to another. No worries and no cares... you can just relax and enjoy the view. The only stress that I can think of is sitting new to (or remotely next to) someone who had a bit more vodka than they should ;) if you know what I mean!
  4. The timeliness - I just love that here in Poland: the timetables are always up to date, there are electric boards that tell you when the next bus is coming (in real time), you can check the timetables also online on the MPK site and there is thus marvelous site and application that I recommend you to install on your phone: Jakdojade. You just put in where you are and where you wish to go and it will show you all the public transport connections possible! Rarely have I seen a late bus or tram, and that usually happens around this time of the year - when there is heavy rain or snow. At all times I like to rely on MPK ;)
  5. The options (no matter the time of day) - no matter where you wish to go, you will always have a couple of options to choose from: be it bus or tram. The lovely part about Kraków is that it has several types of lines when it comes to buses: fast track lines (usually the 500 ones), regular lines and combined lines (for both Strefa 1+2 - eg. There is a bus that can take you from Galeria Krakowska to Wieliczka and you have to use a Strefa 1+2 ticket for it, if you go all the way). I also love that there is an extensive (and growing) network for late hours (after 10 pm). It's true, the buses and trams are not that frequent (every 5-10 min) but at least you know that once an hour you have something that will take you home, no matter where you are!
  6. The posibility of buying a ticket - the options available in Kraków are so diverse! I just love it! At first I was confused as back home we have 1 ticket for 1 trip, no matter how long it is or where it takes you... but here you have so many possibilities: you can buy a ticket according to the time you will spend in traffic, staring from 20 minutes. Of course you have discounts (half a price) for elder people and for students. There is also the option of having a monthly ticket: monthly ticket for all lines + train from Galeria Krakowska to Zabierzow costs 151 zloty, monthly ticket for all lines (bus and tram) costs around 90 zloty - for a full grown up, but if you are a student you get it half price ;) there are also daily, weekend and weekly tickets for the people who travel in Kraków. The tickets you can buy almost everywhere: newspaper shop, machines in the bus/tram stops or at the MPK stands. There are also machines inside all the buses/trams but you usually have to have change already for that. Some also have paypass system for cards ;)
  7. The eco-friendly side of it - let's face it: if people would use more bikes and public transport, the air would be much more clean and we would be more healthy. Less traffic jams, less noise pollution as well... if only! Kraków's public transport has developed a lot during the less 5 years I was here: there are more and more eco - friendly vehicles in the system and there is much more care about the products they use. Take for example the new Krakowiak tram - the longest tram in Europe - that carries twice as many passengers than the regular bus. The Krakowiak also has a system that allows people to recharge their phones (via USB) while in transit. I also heard that the newest versions will be prepared to self-recharge while standing on the bus stops and/or by using the solar power. How awesome is that?!
I dunno about you guys, buy I - for one, rather like public transport and I feel very comfortable in using it, here in Kraków. The buses/trams are frequent and due to the fact that I live in a nice location I can choose a seat all the time and just enjoy the view out the window or the book that I currently read. The only minus is when it rains and you need to wait for a bus switch... but hey! I can live with that! How about you? Are you a fan of public transport? Have you ever been to Kraków and tried it here? Tell me your story :) 

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kraków's public transport