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Friday, 11 July 2014

Public Transportation In Krakow

Dear friends,

If you find yourself in Krakow, staying for a while - be it a weekend, a week, a month or undeterminate time - and you need to travel all over the place, you may wanna have a look on this article. Krakow is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Its population reaches inside the city a staggering amount of 758,334 people (date taken 31st December 2012) and it has a density of 2,300/km2 (6,000/sq mi) with a metropolitan area of 1,725,894. Considering that, it is remarcable that the city does not have Metro lines. 
Just this summer, there was a vote - all people living in the city were called to vote - upon if they should start building it. The proposition was met negatively and the participants did not want it. And I, for one, living in Krakow for 3 years now, understand why. The public transport is decent and if they would start working on a metro then all the main public lines would be closed and we would have blockades and traffic jams for as long as the building of the metro would take place. Take for example Warsaw, where just now they are building the 2nd Metro line and things are going really slow... just like a snail! So it is normal that Cracovians would rather have their city intact and with public transport above the ground.
The public transport in Krakow is based on a dense network of trams and bus lines, which are taken care of by the governance of the city + a number of private minibus companies. The trains are also a huge part of the transportation system throughout the city - and I came to realize that only this year, to my shame, when I changed my job and I had to go from one part of the city to the further on. The main part of the city was transformed in time so it would be only pedestrian + bike friendly + carriages with horses; but before the war, there were tram lines going even to the Sukienicce. 
What I love about the buses and trams and trains here is the fact that 90% of the time they are on schedule - the 10% delays usually comes when there is bad weather and it rains or it snows, but they do come up or you would need to wait for the next one but they are usually 15 minutes apart on the main routes. There is one particular site that was introduced to be by the locals, the first time I came here in Poland and it is called and it is a system build for the communication/public transport inside the Polish cities. You just need to select the city you are located in and it will bring you to a page like this:
The beautiful part about this site is that it also comes in an English version ;) and that it remembers your previous searches. From here it is as easy as 1-2-3 :) You just need to put in the name of the street from where you wish to take the transport from (or the name of the closest bus/tram station) and where you want to get to; introduce the day and date in time that you want to leave (or you can check the arrival box and put the hour on which you need to arrive to that place) and it would calculate the best route and the best option. It also has additional features: If you do not wish to walk by foot / Normal Parameters (I usually pick this one) / I'm in a hurry / Avoid changes (when you would like to do the trip with as less transfers as possible). You can also have a look at more options but tell you the truth, I never use them :) 
But let us say that you are at the Galeria Krakowska (which is also the location of the Main Station for trams / buses / trains alike) and you would like to get to Schindler's Factory. After entering the criteria you press the Search button and it will give you all the possible bus / tram (also in combination) options to get to the specified place in time. This site was always a life saviour, especially when I had no clue over the bus / tram lines that were going to a specific place. Once you know the number of buses and you wish just to check their particular schedule, you can always go to their main mpk page and search them there. It also has the upper option to change the language from Polish to either English or German. When done, select the "Timetables" menu and choose the bus/tram you wish.
There you need to make sure you chose the right way, press on the station that you would pick the bus / tram for and pick the time more suitable for you. The trains go on the same principle and they have their very own page (again, there is a version in English ;) ) and it is updated frequently so make sure you check it each time. For example during holidays (school, faculty) the trains / buses / trams change their schedule and they are a bit less frequent. The site for the train is this one. Yet again you need to put the Station from which you are going and the Station to which you wish to get to and the date of either departure or arrival. Searching for connections does not take long and then you will know which train to choose. 
The wonderful part is that Krakow has this lovely system of daily / weekend / weekly / monthly tickets that can come in any combination of bus / tram / train. For example, right now, the free pass on all bus / tram inside Krakow (be it Strefa 1 or 2) + monthly train ride from Krakow Main Station to Zabierzow / Krakow Business Park is only 174 zloty per person (which is around 57 USD). The trains are quite fast and they are not as scary to me as once, at the beginning. In the last month, due to the train rides, I managed to finish Eragon & Eldest & Brisingr (the first 3 books by Christopher Paolini, part of the Inheritance Cycle). And the train is only a 15 minutes ride! :) Well, that is about it! If you have any questions regarding the public transport inside Krakow, I would be more than happy to oblidge :) This, to my defense, is yet another post for my wonderful friends coming to my wedding in August - so they would not get lost :) 

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Loves Her Friends Very Much