End of the line

End of the line

For most, poor bus connections are not a problem. But what if you depend on it? I give public transport a chance.

A bumpy start – from limbach to habfurt

Drizzle slowly but steadily soaks my jacket. I stand perplexed in front of the timetable, because the next bus doesn’t leave for another hour. It’s still a good four kilometers to home. Wait or walk? I resolutely shoulder my backpack.

Eight hours earlier: the windshield wipers try to keep the rain off the windows. From the inside, the panorama windows fogged up with the breath of the schoolchildren. The bus is well filled. I lean back in my seat with tiredness. 7.26 o’clock my bus left. Not my time. But I had no other choice, because the next bus connection – with which I am not five hours on the road – leaves only at 14.09 o’clock. Too late to start my round trip through the county.

Arriving in habfurt, i realize that the construction site in zeil has cost time. So I rush through the rain, because I have missed my connecting bus that was supposed to take me from the vocational school to the train station. I can walk, but what had someone done that is not so easy?? Although I hurry, my bus to untertheres has already left.

But i am not the only one stranded. Even a schoolgirl who has to go to obertheres waits at the stop. She is no longer allowed to take the regular school bus due to an incident and has to rely on the city bus. She wanted to take the bus for the first time today, but the bus didn’t show up. "I have no other way to get to school", she explains to me and goes home again.

Alone, alone – from habfurt to theres

I decide to go to untertheres anyway and catch the 9 a.M. Bus.30 to take, I still have enough time to look for a toilet. But there are none at the station in habfurt, so I go to a cafe near the marketplace. A latte macchiato has cost me my toilet visit there. Back at the train station the bus is already there and can leave right on time, because no queuing people have stopped him. Since I am the only passenger, I have free choice of seat.

Arrived in untertheres, I speak with residents. Wagenhausen is only a few kilometers away. A village not served by the bus service. As I get there anyway, an elderly lady calls out to me as I pass by: "you have to walk there." But i don’t have that much time, because i have to catch my connection to hofheim. So I go back to habfurt, also this time I am alone.

Arriving at the train station, I talk to a woman from habfurt. She laughs irritably when I ask her when she last took the bus. "I do everything by bike. But i would be happy about a better bus service, then i could go to the steigerwald", she explains and goes on. To protect myself from the wind and rain, I wait in the bus shelter.

Expensive, more expensive, opnv – from habfurt to hofheim

It takes about 30 minutes to get to hofheim, but this time I’m not alone on the bus, because markus spindler has the same route. The hofheimer had an appointment in habfurt and is therefore traveling by bus.

Why he did not take the car? He does not own one. "I’m often the only passenger on the bus. Sometimes I think a smaller bus might be more appropriate." He is glad that a bus is running at all, but he is not happy with the opnv. "The times are very limited and it’s also expensive. For a ride from hofheim to habfurt i pay five euro. I understand that those who don’t have to rely on the bus go by car." Carpooling as an alternative is pointless in his opinion. "I tried it, but most of the people passing by have no idea how they work", explains the 42-year-old.

We have more than one car at home – we rarely have a tight squeeze. But someone without a car is dependent on the bus. Thoughtfully i watch micha, our bus driver. Now and then he raises his hand to the pit when another bus drives past us. He has been doing this job for four years. Before that he was a truck driver. He likes his job, he says. "Early, at five o’clock, the bus is full of schoolchildren and commuters. Now is not so busy, the bus is usually empty." He shrugs his shoulders. We are here. Markus spindler and i get off .

VGN: tourism benefits – from hofheim to ebern

I still have some time before I leave for ebern. So why not ask the tourist information office in hofheim how the opnv and especially the connection to the VGN affects tourism?. "Since the connection to the VGN network, we have received an increasing number of specific requests for timetables and tour tips", explains susanne volkheimer. "Also, many cycling and hiking tourists arrive by bus or train. We notice a pos itive effect."

The connection to the VGN also made planning easier for me. I was able to get the timetable online in a clear way. The only problem is that my internet connection is down and there is no timetable for this route at the bus stop. So I just hope that my bus at 12.22 to ebern really comes. And indeed – a bus stops. Relieved, I want to get on when the driver tells me that she doesn’t actually go all the way to ebern, because no one has ever wanted to go that far before. A solution is needed.

An odyssey – from hofheim via ebern to bamberg

I’m standing nervously in the bus while the bus driver is on the phone with her boss. She hangs up: "A minibus will be here soon to take you to ebern, she explains. I get out and she closes the door behind me. This takes on unimagined dimensions, I think, as I wait at the bus stop for my personal transport service. "There they have probably provided for some confusion", says my driver, as i get into the small bus.

On the way to ebern, he confirms that the line has been in existence since this school year, but no one has ever wanted to ride it, so the bus often only goes as far as burgpreppach. But my odyssey is not over yet. Shortly before kraisdorf I have to change at the edge of a field way into a coarser bus, which brings me however then point after point to ebern. There, at the last minute, I hop on the train to bamberg. Relieved, I just want to buy a ticket. But the machine swallows my money, but does not spit out a ticket. Thank god the lokfuhrerin is on the spot and helps me. I arrive in bamberg 20 minutes before two o’clock.

And back? – from bamberg to ebelsbach

I managed a rough part of the route, but the train to ebelsbach does not leave for another three quarters of an hour. I guess I have to wait out the time. I stroll through the station and decide to get myself a sandwich. Relaxed, I wait for my train. Compared to my chaotic day, the train ride goes absolutely smoothly. During the ride I doze off, being driven around all day is more exhausting than I thought. I startle when the train enters the station in ebelsbach and get out frantically. I stand helplessly in front of the timetable. Slowly but steadily the drizzle soaks my jacket. The next bus does not leave for another hour. It’s still four kilometers to home. Wait or walk? Determined, I shoulder my backpack, but then I let it slide back to the floor.

At 7.26 I set off. Now, at 15.43 I’m in ebelsbach. I was on the road for over eight hours. I actually spent just under three hours on the bus or the train. The rest are waiting times or time buffers that I had to plan for. With the car the same distance had cost me just under two hours. I had nice conversations, but mainly with bus drivers, because I had more contact with them than with passengers. My data volume is exhausted, because I had to check my travel times or alternative routes several times. I am exhausted. So I resignedly twitch my cell phone and call home. "Can you please pick me up?"

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