KVB is Köln’s subway/ transit system. It works on an honor system of sorts in the sense that there are no turnstiles- you just walk onto the train. They have machines where you can buy per-ride tickets or you can get a monthly pass (unlimited rides). To keep you honest they have ticket checkers who randomly get on trains to check that you have paid (and if you haven’t I’ve heard it’s a pretty steep fine). Simon said that in his whole life he’s only been checked twice (and he rode the train to and from school every day for 8 years!).
We all get the unlimited monthly pass since we are often on the train multiple times a day. I pay 84 euros a month, Simon pays 23 (his work pays the rest), Quinnie gets a special yearly pass through her school that works out to 23 euros a month, and Kiera (and all children under 6) rides for free. When you do the math on it, it adds up, but compared to what we were paying in the States (for 2 cars, gas for 2 cars, upkeep and repairs, insurance, etc.), we are saving LOTS of money.
Where I buy my pass every month
Ticket machine on platform.
closeup of screen
Ticket stamper on train
It seems like the majority of people who live in the city don’t have cars. There’s really no need- the public transportation is so good and it gets you anywhere you need to go quickly. Plus, who want to deal with the whole parking headache? By the way, the transit system is clean and well kept- I have yet to see a dirty or sketchy train or station. We actually DO have a car- Simon’s Mom gave us her old one since she never uses it. It is tiny (the perfect size for the city, parking, and our family’s needs). We usually just use it for when we go grocery shopping. I haven’t been able to break my American habit of doing one big trip once a week. People here seem to go grocery shopping every day or every other day and walk or bike home with their groceries.
Here’s our car. I bet we’ll also be glad we have one when we have to bring a sick kid to the Pediatrician in the winter.