By, Brittony Girton
Upon first arrival in Prague, the lovely ladies who took us on our orientation walk told us a little about the public transportation in Prague, and to our recently landed jetlagged ears sounded terrifying! There are buses and trams and metros, OH MY! And what is a tram? How does that work? I have never seen such a vehicle! We do not have those back home! I will fear for my LIFE! But they were correct when they said that getting around Prague is easy. It is really easy. Coming from cities in the United States where you are lucky if the bus system is efficient in any way or even comes within walking distance of where you live, being able to easily get on to a bus, tram or metro is awesome.
The Metro is the fastest way to get from one place to another. There are three lines, A B and C, and luckily are color-coded too as green yellow and red, because I never remember the letter. I am more of a visual person and like colors. But only having three lines means you won’t get too terribly lost and if you head in the wrong direction you can just get off and went for the next metro heading in the right direction. The next metro is usually in the next 5 minutes, on the weekends maybe in the next 10 minutes. There are a few stops to be weary of at they have something like 8 to 10 exits and if you take the wrong one you could be two blocks from where you meant to be. And of course, this is an old city so “block” does not mean a nice little square that you can just walk around the circumference and find the correct corner. Such stops include Mustek, Florence, and Namesti Republiky, which are of course the stops you take for Old Town and the major language schools that many of us TEFL grads work for. So the first couple times you travel to Mustek I recommend giving yourself some extra time. When you are on the metro tram or bus it is also assumed that you will give up your seat to the elderly or someone else who needs it more.
For my roommates and me, we don’t live near a Metro stop, so my favorite transport is the trams. We have a tram that stops near our apartment and unless I have a lesson that requires me to take the metro as the better option, I usually take the tram. Now, the first thing to remember is that the trams have the right of way, always. All the local Prague people know this, they will walk in front of a car, but they will not walk in front of a tram. So remember, trams have the right of way. This of course doesn’t mean that you can’t sprint across the tram tracks to catch your trams. I have become quite good and dodging traffic to make it across the street to then sprint on the track to make the tram so that I am not late to my next lesson. I would advise to try to run in front of the tram because often if the driver seeing you running they will hold the tram an extra second or two. Most trams run every 10 minutes, so there is always the next tram.
As for the buses, I don’t know those as well. Within the city limits of Prague you will usually use the tram or metro. The bus isn’t as efficient within the city and is a rockier ride as many of the streets in Prague are still paved with brinks and cobble stones. The times you will need to use the bus will be for some of the neighborhoods of Prague, or when you are heading to the outskirts of the city. Many local neighborhoods are on hills that surround the city and the trams don’t go up hill easily, so for one of my private lesson where I go to the student’s house, I take the tram from my apartment then I take the bus up the hill. The other time I take the bus is when I head out of Prague. I have had a few lesson that are in a company based outside of Prague in a small town, so for public transport you have to take a bus. And bus that heads out of town will have the option of buying a ticket from the driver, which is good because sometimes tickets are hard to get outside of the city.
Now for the tickets! For a one-way ride the 24 czk is fine. That is a 30 minutes ride and unless you are going on a longer ride you don’t need more. For a day ticket, 24 hours, that is a 110 czk ticket, good for moving day or if you plan to go to many places. And the ticket starts when you punch it upon entry into the metro, tram or bus, not when you buy the ticket. So I recommend buying a couple tickets when you can because finding a ticket stand can be a challenge. The metro will also have the tickets available but the trams won’t. If you plan to stay in Prague and use the public transportation, then you will want to get a pass. They have several options which you can look into which is on the website below. What I have is the 5-month pass, which was 2450 czk, and when divided down into days, that equals about 16 czk a day. And these tickets are good for the bus, tram and metro, you can go any where within Prague with these tickets and passes, which is fabulous! You do not have to buy different tickets for different transports. The only time you will need to pay extra will be for when you leave the city limits. They call it different zones. For example, when you take the bus to either a suburb of Prague or to one of the small towns. For an individual ticket and depending on how far you are traveling out, that may be the 32 or 40 czk ticket. However, if you have the pass and you show it too the driver, it will be much cheaper. For me it was an extra 12 or 18 czk with my pass.
The other favored way to get around Prague is to walk. Around Old Town, you can walk everywhere you need to go. So when you are sightseeing, and unless you have a time frame you are following, I recommend getting a little exercise and walking from one point to another. When you get a job teaching you will have plenty of time to become very intimate with the public transport system.