Buses take you to places/districts where the trams don't run. You need them e.g. for the Kassberg district and for the castle Rabenstein. The main bus station is a few minutes walk from the main train station, but some buses also stop at the train station. The main bus station is where the regional buses to the surrounding region and the Erzgebirge mountains depart.
Tickets can be obtained from the driver. The VMS (public transportation network) and Länder-Ticket Sachsen are valid.
Trams are an important part of the public transportation network in Chemnitz. They all run via the city centre where you can change at "Zentralhaltestelle" stop. In the future the tram network will be majorly enlarged. The plan is to connect the towns in the surrounding region with Chemnitz by tram - called "Chemnitzer Modell".
Base of the plan is a fortunate decision that the administration of Chemnitz made in 1960 - they changed the width of the tracks to the same that the regular railway uses (1435 mm). (Usually tram tracks are narrower.) Karlsruhe did the same in the 1970s, Kassel and Saarbrücken some years later. These towns made much better progress of connecting the region with the city, though.
In Chemnitz financial means were tight, only since 2002 on a first tram line connects Chemnitz with the town Stollberg - successfully with a growing number of passengers. Subsidies from the state and the federal administration make it possible to start with the construction works now. From 2013 on new tram lines to towns in the region will open almost every year until the project will be finished in 2019.
The main railway station is undergoing major reconstruction works, these will last for a couple of more years. Finally the trams will share the main hall with the regional and long-distance trains, changes will be very convenient.
No high-speed train (ICE), not even an IC train stops in Chemnitz. Still, travelling by train to Chemnitz is a good idea.
The city is on the railway route Nürnberg - Hof - Dresden where IRE and RE trains run every two hours. Between Hof - Zwickau and Chemnitz (- Dresden) the RB trains run even more frequently. This route is undergoing electrification, so be prepared for delays due to construction works. Also, you can catch a regional train from Leipzig every hour to Chemnitz.
Trains run from Chemnitz in several directions into the surrounding region - the Erzgebirge mountains e. g. are well connected, you can ride to Schwarzenberg, Annaberg, Marienberg, Olbernhaus etc.
The good thing about regional trains only serving Chemnitz is that you can use the inexpensive Länder-Tickets, Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket or Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket for getting to Chemnitz and back. The Länder-Ticket Sachsen is also valid on all buses and trams in the VMS (regional transportation network in and around Chemnitz).
Be prepared that the main railway station is undergoing major construction works in the next years - practically all the railroads, platforms, wires etc. will be replaced which will affect the schedules from time to time (delays!)
The public transport network within the city consists of 5 tram lines and 25 bus lines in the daytime and 8 night buses. The main lines run every 10 minutes in the day time but some buses run only once per hour.
So far trams cover mostly the Southern half of the city. There are big plans and big construction works going on to extend the tram network far out into the surrounding countryside, though. A lot of improvement can be expectected in the next couple of years.
The modern trams are excellent and comfortable, spacious and easy to board because they have no stairs. There are still some old DDR models around, though, and these have steep and high stairs at the doors.
Fares are moderate: a single ticket is 1.80 €, a day ticket 3.80 € (fares of September 2011, see the CVAG website linked at the bottom for up-to-date fares). If you plan 3 or more rides the day ticket is worth having.
Chemnitz is part of the regional network, Verkehrsverbund Mittelsachsen (VMS), hence VMS tariff applies.
Blue and yellow are the heraldic colours of the city, hence the colours for buses and trams, unless they covered in advertisements.
For connections, an important stop is Zentralhaltestelle in the heart of the city, one block from the market square, corner Bahnhofstraße/Rathausstraße, where all trams and several bus lines meet. Attention, it consists of two stops, one in Rathausstraße and another round the corner in Bahnhoftrtraße, so check where your bus or tram departs. The stops are well signposted.
The central bus station is located in Schillerplatz two blocks West of the central train station. This is the central stop for the overland bus lines. Construction works are going on in the streets around it at the moment, so there might be deviations and changes in stops.
Website of CVAG in English
Verkehrsverbund Mittelsachsen - website in German only
The city of Chemnitz have big plans to extend their tram network far into the surroundings and connect neighbouring villages and towns to it. They established the term "Chemnitz model" for their system, which includes tracks of the same width as the railway tracks and hybrid trams that can use both the electrical network of the city and the current provided by the railway (don't ask me about the technical details please).
Anyway, since I am from Karlsruhe, all this does not sound exactly new to me, and usually this idea is known as the "Karlsruhe model" :D
There is one striking difference, though, which is a notable improvement for passengers: All new trams in Chemnitz are Niederflurbahnen, i.e. trams with a low floor and no steps at the doors. The platforms at the new stops are correspondingly low. The trams are spacious, the aisle is wide enough for two people to pass each other - very comfortable.
Do far only one line is in operation: the 522 from Chemnitz central station through the city, then along the Würschnitz valley and into the Ore Mountains to Stollberg. It uses an old train line, although new tracks and stations have been built. The 522 trams are all red. This tram is needed if you plan to visit Klaffenbach water castle. The modern trains are already running on the city lines, although you will find some old ones on the tracks, too.
Several more lines are being planned or already under construction, they are to start running in a few years. At the central station big construction works are going on to create a connection from the tram tracks to the railway tracks. In the future the trams will conveniently stop inside the station hall.
Chemnitz is a major hub in the area and has good and frequent train connections in all directions. The main route is the Sachsen-Franken line from Dresden via Freiberg, Chemnitz, Zwickau, Plauen, Hof to Nürnberg. Then there is a connection North to Leipzig and a couple of side lines, for example into the valleys of the Ore Mountains.
For reasons alien to any train traveller, however, DB has cut this whole area off its long-distance train networks. No ICE or IC trains. Even the long route from Dresden to Nürnberg is only done by RE and IRE trains. The advantages are lower fares and validity of Sachsen-Ticket and local transport tickets. The disadvantages are longer travel times and the discomfort of those nasty modern Pendolino trains that incline in all curves. If you are prone to travel sickness, pack some medicine and take a seat that is facing forward. (Usually I have no such problems on trains but these Pendolinos are my stomach's enemies. I hate them.)
Right now (2011) the central station in Chemnitz is a big construction site. Only the tracks 1-2 and 12-14 are in use. Works will take a couple of years. The reason is the new tram system, the so-called "Chemnitz model", with trams that can use the train tracks. An entrance for the trams into the station hall is being built, which means removing one wall and whatnot.
Public transport in Chemnitz is very well organized. Buses and trams run very often (every 10-15 minutes mostly during daytime) and also the whole night through (once an hour). The network covers most areas of the city perfectly but it might be a little more difficult to get into the outskirts of the city.
Prices are very low: adults pay 1,70€ for a single ticket or 3,40€ for a day ticket.
In case you need to know in detail where your next bus runs, check out this map.
After lunch we had an hour to kill so spent time riding the local tram network. Very modern and comfortable, a good way to see the city if you don't have much time.