I'm a first visitor to Berlin, on a work trip . I've been using subway,trams for local travel. Found it to be very useful. Unfortunately, today at Stadmitte station, as I was entering the train, there were two young men right behind me who actually opened the small sling bag which I was carrying and pulled out my purse, jumped off the train just as the doors were closing. It all happened in a fraction of a second. Luckily, I did not lose my passport,but just some money. I got off the next station and tried to call the police from the phone(SOS) there, but the policeman did not speak English. A lady whose help I sought spoke on the phone in German on my behalf. However, all that the policeman told me was to go some stations away, find a police station and lodge a complaint ! Yes, so the tip I suppose is be extra cautious. if don't know to speak German, and are in an emergency then there is nothing much you can do here. So travel is certainly not safe on subways!
When I travelled from Berlin Schoenefeld Airport to the city centre by S-Bahn, I was approached by a woman outside the station who tried to get me to buy a used rail ticket. I had heard of this scam before so naturally I declined. I did hang around a while though to see her approach other people either to ask them for their used tickets or to try and palm off the tickets to other unsuspecting tourists.
My advice is to avoid these people as their behaviour is illegal. Only buy tickets from the machines in the station and make sure you stamp them prior to your journey at the 'Entwerter' machines on each platform. There are heavy fines imposed on anyone caught travelling on a ticket that is not valid or no ticket at all.
If you use the trains in Berlin sooner or later you will have someone enter the train and after short speech offer to sell you a magazine. This seems to happen at the weekends. During the week after the short speech the music starts sometimes with 1 musician but I did see up to 3 on one occasion. Though in their case a police officer got on the train causing a musical interlude until he got off.
When you arrive at a station you don't have any control for getting the U-bahn, the S-bahn or the tram. SO there is the big temptation to not buy the ticket and catch the train. Well don't do it! It's true that there aren't controls at the station so you can be lucky, but there are lots of controls directly on the trains or on the trams. Usually ti works in this way. As soon as the door are closed some guys dressed as normal travellers (so there is no way to recognize them) show you the card of the U-bahn control and ask you for the ticket. I never see someone without the ticket so i don't know how much they make you pay, but all this guys makeing controls seemed like Wrestling fighter!! Better you have the ticket even if i admit..the temptation to not buy it is big:-PP
This tip is for U-bahn, S-bahn and trams
Jumping trains that is, without buying a ticket. Alright, I will admit that in the past, I've been a "jumper" on occasion. If I were going a relatively short distance from point A to point B, I would take the chance to hop aboard and get off at my stop, no problem. There was a smaller risk in the past, because BVG workers uniformed, and those undercover in plain clothes seemed to be few and far between. Not anymore, believe me.
In the past, some Berliners have given the opinion that young, pretty woman didn't get ticketed as much as others, older people didn't, etc. Yet honestly, on a simple journey lasting about 45 minutes through a few stops, especially in morning and afternoon rush times, I see at least 2 people get ticketed regularly. Pretty girls, business men, older people, doesn't matter. If you are going to take the train, go ahead and buy a ticket for the day (5,80€) or regular fare (2,10€), or if you are going to be staying in Berlin longer, go for the monthly ticket (varies). It will save you money in the end.
Trams also get policed this way, same advise is applicable. On buses, not so much the same, one has to pass the driver to enter, and if you try to slip on through one of the backdoors, it is ever so embarassing for the driver to leave his cockpit and come back and put you off.
Another newer change to the public transportation system one needs to be aware of is DIRECTION. Before, one could use the same ticket to go to a place, then return from it. Now, you must buy a ticket each way or direction, or you can also be ticketed and have to appear in "court". Beware the "train police"! They move in tandem in just a certain way: one to each end of the car, usually no backpack or baggage, then as soon as the doors close they announce themselves, and everyone starts scrambling for their tickets. Make sure you have yours!
All cities, where is subway/metro has their own system. Most of tmetrostations have gates before going in the metro but in Berlin there was nt any.. and so i went through everything holding the ticket in my fingers to mark it... Maybe its in the train ..and i have to mark it there inside .. no..later i discovered those yello machines in the wating plaform...so pay intention and find them.. or you are rabbit without knowing...
I booked my train ticket to Leipzig thru the official German National Railways site. The hotel where I stayed didn't have a printer so I wrote the confirmation # down and assumed I could print it at the Zoo train station. Upon my arrival at Zoo I headed for the so-called English speaking specialists (there is a separate counter for this) and asked for them to print out my ticket. They said they couldn't do this so they pointed vaguely to some machines around the corner. Unsuccessful in retrieving my ticket from these machines (even though I had my credit card and confirmation number) I ran back and spoke to a more competent agent who said that the only way to retrieve an e-tickets is to have it printed out by the user. The computer system for these tickets is different than the computer that the desk agents use so he told me that he could not access my info. He recommended I go to an internet cafe to print it out which would have been sound advice except that my train was leaving in under 8 minutes. Frustrated and running out of time I had to purchase an entirely new ticket the old-fashioned way! The lession: PRINT out your e-ticket and bring it with you on-board. Amazingly, AMTRAK is more efficient than the German railways since I've never had a problem using their self-service kiosks at train stations.
in Berlin it is not simply enough to buy a train ticket or travel card, you must also validate the tichet in one of the boxes in the station. it is important that you do this as playing the 'stupid tourist' does not work. As the trust system is in place you could find yourself with a hefty fine. DONT RISK IT.
When using Public transport, always ensure you validate your ticket in the little yellow machines before getting on the train! if you are caught without a ticket, or with an unvalidated one, you will get a €40 on the spot fine.
If you cant pay the fine, you will be taken to an ATM, or the police will be called.
S-bahn stations in general late at night are rather empty, and their may be the lone crazie or group in it you wish to avoid. If in any doubt, stay on the street level, take a taxi to where you need be. They can usually be found at the corners of main intersections, beige cars or small vans. Look for the taxi signs with arrows. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation or are lost step inside of restaurant or corner shop and ask directions if necessary.
Towards the outsides of the city later at night, near stopping time for the lines, make sure you allow enough time to make it back to your stop or you might find yourself stranded some station you don´t know and trains have stopped for the night. Then you will have to find a night bus stop if possible (always try to find one headed to your direction or Zoo station where taxis can be found, read the marker next to the stop) or a taxi, or might have a lOOOOOOng walk.
U-bahns. Again you have to make sure you give yourself enough time to reach your stop later in the night during the week, or you can find yourself stranded. Safety in these...hmm, same info as above for U-bahns, but generally you will find some riders at any time most main stations. Rarely you are completely alone on a car as you might find yourself at an S-bahn late at night. I´d a friend from language class from Panama who always took buses so matter how long it took or how early she had to start out for a location because she had been told the U-bahn were uber dangerous as were S-bahns. One couldn´t convince her otherwise, but she had been given flawed info. Any place can be dangerorus somewhat even buses, but the majority of Berliners of any colour use public transit safely daily.
I´ve heard different views about the dangers on these at nights and certain areas of the city. People warning that ones with darker skin should stay away from the S-bahns at night in the eastern sections of Berlin, or for direct example at Ostkreuz station. I´ve traveled all around on them, different times of the day and night, and of course you see I have paler skin and most people think me German but I do watch people and see what´s going on. I´ve never personally seen any abuses or problems going on to visitors types of any color.
You might see some questionable looking characters but generally for Berlin, as compared to other big cities of the world, whether these people dislike you based on nationality or skin color they seldom bother casual visitors and the like. The ones that might get you trouble are the younger guys thinking they are tough with something to prove to the world, but these were to others from the city. A group of young Turkish guys that were verbally harassing a young German looking guy, and then opposite a group of German youth bothering a Turk. These are the situations I´ve seen. Once a friend who is mixed with darker skin was casually spit at by a German Russian youth at an S-bahn station, but the others waiting alongside the young woman at the station hissed him so terribly he was the one embarassed, as he should have been. He quickly left without getting on. So there are things that go on, anyplace it might be so when large groups of different peoples mix and they don´t try to understand or tolerate the other, but its fewer than what some people try to make it.
Don´t be afraid to come to Berlin because of what a few people say. Its a great place to visit, you have to be wise as in any big city but its really few dangers for a city this size. Have to use common sense.
If you´re riding the train´s or tram´s for free you should watch out for undercover guards...
They´re mostly dressed like hip hop street kids... Ages from 20-40. So watch out if you´re sneaking the trains..