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Frequently asked questions

Photo of DVB staff explaining the way to a passenger with a map

Up to what point will the driver let me get on?

As a basic principle our drivers are advised to let on any passengers who still wish to board the vehicle.

This is nevertheless only possible if the situation allows and no delays are caused as a result. Many sets of signals only give our vehicles a very short departure slot, and for technical reasons a tram needs between six and eight seconds between receiving clearance and actually departing. If a driver allows on passengers rushing to board their vehicle they may miss their slot and have to wait up to two minutes for the next one. This can lead to minor delays or increase existing delays to the extent that passengers already on the vehicle miss their connections. To be more specific: It is not only safety aspects but also service frequency, vehicle priority, vehicle-specific timetabling, traffic lights and actual local circumstances that need to be taken into account. The bottom line is that we see both timetable adherence and the facilitation of passenger changeovers as important customer service aspects that are sometimes unfortunately incompatible with one another. This is one of a number of reasons why our daytime services generally operate at 10-minute intervals – thus ensuring reasonable waiting times.

TIP: We recommend that you always aim to arrive at your stop at least two minutes before the scheduled departure time. This will enable you to begin your journey with a minimum of stress.

Why are double stops used? Where do vehicles stop, and what do I need to be aware of?

So-called “double stops” enable two vehicles to simultaneously stop and carry out a passenger changeover before leaving the stop one directly after the other.

Double stops not only facilitate both scheduled and ad-hoc passenger changeovers, but also improve the flow of public transport vehicles through junctions controlled by signals. The first vehicle to arrive at a double stop stops in the front section, the second in the rear section. If the rear vehicle is unable to depart at the same time as the front vehicle, the driver is obliged to keep an eye out for any additional passengers arriving at the stop and allow them to board. If the vehicle stops again in the front section of the stop passengers will also be able to get on there. Despite its advantages, this approach can sometimes cause irritation amongst passengers if they are not sure exactly where “their tram” or “their bus” is going to stop.

TIP: We recommend that passengers wait for their vehicle at the centre of the stop and use the dynamic passenger information displays (if available) to find out which order the next vehicles are going to arrive in.

Do cyclists have to make room for pushchairs and wheelchairs?

The conveyance of bicycles on the public transport network is a special, important service offered by our company and represents standard practice on almost all local public transport networks in the Upper Elbe region. It is nevertheless to be ensured that bicycles are transported in an orderly and safe manner. §11 of our conveyance regulations states that passengers with pushchairs and wheelchairs are to be enabled to board the vehicle whenever possible and given priority over the conveyance of bicycles. On the other hand: Once a bicycle is on the vehicle, the fact that a conveyance contract has been concluded with its owner means that neither it nor its owner can be ordered off the vehicle.

TIP: Whereas wheelchair users and passengers with pushchairs should generally use the first tram door or second bus door, cyclists are more likely to find space for their steed towards the rear of trams and articulated buses.

Why do the tram doors close even when someone still wants to get on?

The doors of our low-floor city trams are equipped with modern automation systems which enable passengers to get on and off safely, quickly and comfortably. Upon arriving at a stop, drivers will normally switch to an operating mode which allows doors to be opened by passengers themselves using the corresponding button. A set of doors which has been cleared for opening is signalled by the illuminated green circle at the centre of the door-opening button. If a passenger presses a stop request button within the compartment, the nearest set of doors to them will open automatically once cleared for opening. The open doors are monitored by a light barrier and close automatically – i.e. independent of the driver – if there are no more passengers in the door area a few seconds later. The system naturally does not know if anyone is approaching the tram and wishes to get on. The doors can be reopened as long as they remain cleared for opening and the green light is illuminated.

Shortly before departure the driver deactivates door-opening buttons, the familiar gong sounds, the green light goes out and the doors remain closed. Once the signals have cleared the vehicle for departure the driver is obliged to depart. Even though this sometimes unfortunately means that a passenger rushing to catch the tram is unable to get on, we also have a duty to ensure that passengers already on the tram depart on time and make their connections. At peak times and during the summer the driver is also able to centrally open all doors and keep them open until the tram is due to depart. As this would make for a chilly climate in our vehicles during the colder months, automatic door systems represent the most practical solution.

TIP: We recommend that passengers with restricted mobility, pushchairs or bicycles press the button featuring the wheelchair and/or pushchair symbol. This prevents the automatic closing of the doors and allows the passengers in question to get off at their own pace.

Why are DVB vehicles not air-conditioned?

This is a particularly popular question on hot summer days – and given the oppressive heat there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation for the lack of air-conditioning at first glance. We’ve reassessed this issue, and are caught between comfort and customer needs on the one hand and energy efficiency, sustainability and profitability on the other.

It goes without saying that air-conditioning systems are now a standard feature in many situations and offer welcome relief when temperatures rise. This notwithstanding, they are only really useful on a few days each year and otherwise represent unnecessary ballast which has to be transported along with the rest of the vehicle. The additional weight alone increases consumption of traction power or diesel – and in turn CO2 emissions. Air-conditioning systems themselves also require a lot of energy. Energy consumption measurements carried out by other transportation companies show that when the outside temperature reaches around 30 °C an air-conditioning system consumes around half of the energy used to drive the vehicle! Energy consumption is especially problematic in urban areas, where short intervals between stops lead to the constant exchange of cooled inside air with warm outside air which then needs to be cooled in combination with a high level of energy input. This approach is counter-productive given our commitment to protecting the environment and increasing energy efficiency by achieving sustainability targets using a variety of measures such as hybrid buses and energy-saving driving styles.

Cost is another important factor alongside energy consumption. Air-conditioning systems represent an expensive investment, require regular servicing and repairs and are accompanied by considerable energy costs. These additional costs inevitably have to be passed onto passengers. Just like any other luxury, the comfort of travelling through Dresden in an air-conditioned vehicle is simply very expensive. Active ventilation using top-hinged windows and roof-mounted ventilation units therefore represents a necessary compromise.

In sweltering temperatures it is only natural that air-conditioning seems like a great idea. Yet we have to take decisions with a cool head, and believe that we are on the right path in terms of environmental protection – at least until air-conditioning systems offer a satisfactory level of energy and cost efficiency.

What do I need to pay attention to at level crossings in Dresden?

Level crossings comprise all crossings for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians over stretches of track which are not integrated into and therefore intersect the road network. Signal types and forms at level crossings vary significantly from those normally used to control vehicular and pedestrian traffic, so we’d like to take this opportunity to describe them in detail. The most recognizable feature at a level crossing is a red-tipped white St Andrew’s Cross. This signifies that trams always have priority over other road users.

At stops it is generally only pedestrians that cross the tram tracks. This means that the St Andrew’s Cross is not required, and stops therefore instead feature signs bearing a pictogram alerting pedestrians to the fact that they are crossing a tram track and to exercise the same care and attention as they would when crossing a road.

In addition to simple signs, many crossings are also drawn attention to by additional light systems which differ from “normal” pedestrian lights in a number of ways. To give an example, the point where a footpath crosses a track is often only fitted with red lights. The reason why there is no green light is that trams still have priority even when the lights are off. Some crossings are also fitted with yellow flashing lights which represent an additional warning to pedestrians that a tram or bus is approaching.

Caution: The basic setting for all lights at tram crossings is “off” (i.e. not illuminated). This neither means that the lights are “green” for pedestrians nor that there are no trams approaching.

The utmost care is always to be taken when crossing tracks! Even if the lights are not illuminated, approaching trams or buses are still to be reckoned with. If a vehicle is indeed approaching, pedestrians are always obliged to wait even if the lights are not illuminated (see § 19 StVO).

Who is responsible for keeping stops clear during the winter months?

Responsibility for snow clearing and gritting at and around stops is defined by a municipal bye-law which states that we – Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe – are only responsible for snow clearing and gritting on loading islands, which are generally situated between road traffic lanes. Snow clearing and gritting in other waiting areas which form part of public pavements is the responsibility of the resident whose property faces onto it. Their obligations include the clearing and gritting of the pavement (minimum width to be cleared: 1.50 m) and the creation of channels which enable passengers to get to and from the kerb.

It is unfortunately a perennial problem that property owners either only fulfil their obligations in part or not at all – even though failure to comply with the aforementioned byelaws is a fineable offence. In such cases we make every effort to use our own clearing and gritting teams to rectify the situation as quickly as possible (time and personnel restraints permitting). We are nevertheless unable to clear all 1,500 stops on our own: Our main focus during the winter months has to be the usability of our roughly 295 kilometres of tracks and 650 sets of points, as they must be clear and in working order if we are to get you safely to your destination even in adverse weather conditions.

TIP: Stops at which the DVB is responsible for snow clearing and gritting feature a notice detailing the contractor commissioned to carry out the work on its behalf. Residents are responsible at stops where no notice is displayed. In the latter case, please contact the Dresden authorities if clearing and gritting is required but has not occurred. The byelaw governing snow clearing and gritting is available at www.dresden.de [German only].

What ways are there to make better use of vehicle capacity?

In the cold winter months people tend to huddle together. During the Advent period in particular this is unfortunately also the case in our vehicles, the main reasons being rising passenger numbers, the switch from bicycle to bus or tram and an influx of Christmas shoppers and visitors to Christmas markets. The annual increase in the number of pupils at the city’s schools also leads to bottlenecks on some routes.

Even if we were to watch increases in demand like hawks and react as swiftly as possible, the provision of additional services is not always an option if we wish to ensure both the commercial viability of our fleet and the responsible use of income from fares. This means that when passenger numbers are especially high we are unable to offer the usual level of spatial comfort that is otherwise an understandably popular benefit. Our first tip is therefore that passengers keep as many seats free as possible by not blocking them with shopping bags or rucksacks.

When calculating the maximum capacity of our vehicles we work on the basis of no more than three standing passengers per square metre, which is deliberately well below the four passengers per square metre generally adopted within the industry. The fact that we are going in the right direction is reflected in the results of a customer satisfaction comparison with 30 other transportation companies, which put us at the top of the table in terms of satisfaction with the amount of space available.

We ask you to be even more considerate than normal when your tram or bus starts to get full – a fellow passenger will be grateful if you let them sit next to you. It is also best to keep away from the doors so that other passengers can get on and off quickly and delays are avoided.

We request that all passengers ensure that all available space is made use of by moving right down inside the vehicle. If you ask politely your fellow passengers will make sure you can make it to the door in time to get off. Please take off your rucksack before boarding the vehicle and avoid blocking seats or spaces with your luggage. Make sure you also use the middle and rear of the vehicle. It is not unusual for the front to be a real scrum even though there are still seats free in the middle or at the back.

How can I find out about any interruptions to my current journey?

Even with the utmost care and precautions, it is always possible for unforeseen circumstances such as accidents, traffic jams and vehicle damage to lead to delays or, in extreme cases, service cancellations. As problems of this type occur at short notice, it is not possible to find out about them using the popular journey planner on our website, which only refers to scheduled timetable information.

If you are already standing at your stop and it is fitted with a dynamic passenger information system, please refer to the display for real-time information and updated departure times. As we naturally don’t want you to arrive at your stop only to find that you’re in for a long wait, we have put together the following information on getting to your destination with a minimum of stress – whatever the weather.

Fast facts straight to your mobile!

Since November 2010 we have used Twitter to keep you informed about both planned diversions and current service interruptions – unfortunately an occasional problem during the winter months. If you have a Twitter account, please follow us to receive the latest updates – as almost 7,000 DVB customers already do. Twitter is a quick, direct means of keeping people informed, making it ideal for the communication of weather-related cancellations caused by snow or ice, as well as other traffic network interruptions. Its similarity with text messaging makes Twitter easy for all to use, so why not take a look at our channel at https://twitter.com/DVBAG.

Mobile website

For some years now we have offered a mobile website which makes it even easier for smartphone users to check how services are running. Simply select the “Current departures” menu to browse real-time departure times for the stop of your choice. The mobile website is easy to use, as it automatically locates the nearest stop without you having to tap it in or know your way around the local area. This naturally requires your smartphone to be fitted with an integrated positioning chip. Our mobile website is available at m.dvb.de (German only).

Phone our service hotline +49 351 8571011

You can also find out about issues such as service interruptions on your route by calling our service hotline on +49 351 8571011.

How do I know that a diversion is currently in place on my route?

In order to help you see straight away that a bus or tram is currently operating along a different route than normal (e.g. due to construction work), we have collected together the following list of key things to look out for:

  • Orange route signs at stops
  • “Down-and-right” arrows in route display units in our vehicles
  • Orange-coloured timetables at stops

Please also take note of information provided at stops and in daily newspapers.

Why did my connecting bus or tram pull away right in front of me – even though I checked the connection using the journey planner?

We regularly hear from our customers that they have selected a specific connection using the journey planner on www.dvb.de only to arrive at the stop where they need to change vehicles and unfortunately see their connecting service pulling away. In many cases this is because passengers need to cross a road to get from stop to stop but have to wait so long for a green light that they miss their connection. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to point out that the routes and connections delivered by our journey planner can only ever be recommendations. The connecting services shown are theoretically possible based on the current timetable – provided the routes involved run on time.

There are many reasons why the vehicle you’re sitting in might not arrive at your connecting stop on time. Even as a public transport provider, we are just one of many road users and face the same problems as any car driver on Dresden’s roads. Day in, day out, our drivers do their utmost to avoid both delays and early arrivals from the outset. When planning our timetables we review and improve any connections found to be affected by recurrent, major irregularities. After all, we naturally aim to combine as many bus and tram routes at shared stops as possible – thus ensuring the maximum number of potential connections.

Many of the delays which arise in day-to-day urban traffic cannot be controlled by either us or our drivers:

  • Delivery vehicles blocking lanes or rails
  • Parked cars obstructing our vehicles
  • Large groups of tourists with no change buying tickets from the driver
  • Building sites causing slow-moving or stationary traffic
  • Rush-hour or event-related traffic
  • An emergency service vehicle stopped on the rails/in the lane

When will my local stop be fitted with a modern passenger information display?

Passenger information displays at our stops show when the next vehicle on a particular route is due to arrive in real time. Rolling text is used to provide brief information on any service interruptions or building work.

Our long-term goal is to fit a dynamic passenger information display at every stop, with our tram network a particular priority. On the one hand, trams carry almost 70 per cent of our passengers. On the other, their “rigid” routes often make them more sensitive to traffic problems than buses, with precise, up-to-the-minute passenger information therefore all the more important.

Another point worth considering is that we are responsible for almost all tram network infrastructure. This offers us better long-term investment security than our bus-based operations. In addition, the data cables required in order to send real-time information to display units have already been installed along almost all tram tracks. It is therefore far cheaper to equip a tram stop with a passenger information display than an out-of-the-way bus stop. Responsibility for bus stops, on the other hand, lies with the City of Dresden’s highways and planning authority. This means that the cost of preparing a stop for the installation of a passenger information display has to be covered by the municipal budget.

The main costs linked to the fitting of a stop with a dynamic passenger information display are generated by the civil engineering work required in connection with data cables. We therefore always aim to carry out this preparatory step as part of planned road improvement work or similar projects. To give an example, the reason why the important Tharandter Straße stop still doesn’t feature a display unit is that the city authorities plan to redesign the stop.

How do I use doors 3 and 4 to get in and out of an articulated bus?

A bus’s first two doors are always opened and closed by the driver. Doors 3 and 4, on the hand, open and close independent of the driver. The corresponding stop request buttons needs to be pressed in order for each set of doors to open. The doors begin to close automatically after a few seconds once sensors have determined that there are no more passengers between the doors. If the closing doors meet an obstacle they automatically reopen. This essentially prevents the crushing of passengers between them. When buses are full it is important to keep door areas free so that the doors can close and the bus can leave on time.

How do the lights work in trams and buses?

Many passengers take the time they spend on our vehicles as an opportunity to read. Our buses and trams need to be bright enough to allow them to do so.

Let there be light on the tram…

As a general rule lights on trams are controlled automatically by a light sensor. The threshold values at which lights are activated or deactivated are defined by the manufacturer. Where necessary, our tram drivers are also able to turn on all lights throughout the vehicle.

Let there be light on the bus…

Unlike tram lighting, bus lighting is only operated on a manual basis. The bus driver is therefore responsible for turning it off and on. On some buses the driver can also choose between two degrees of brightness. For safety reasons, and in particular to avoid reflections in the windscreen, the driver can turn off the two front lights separately.
 

How often are buses and trams cleaned?

Our company’s commitment to quality means that we only send cleaned vehicles out onto the rails and roads. Each and every night, all tram and bus interiors are mopped and handrails, vestibules and window consoles wet-wiped. Windows are cleaned around once every two weeks, with a thorough clean including upholstery cleaning and the sealing of floor surfaces occurring every six to eight weeks. All cleaning is carried out once a vehicle has returned to the depot at the end of the day, and therefore generally occurs at night. This level of cleaning frequency is far higher than otherwise practised by urban public transport networks. Should a vehicle become particularly dirty during the course of its journey, and provided a substitute vehicle is available, we will replace the vehicle as quickly as possible and clean it thoroughly. Your support and understanding are important to us in this regard.

It is unfortunately increasingly common for passengers to forget their manners and make our vehicles dirty with their chewing gum, drinks and leftover food. We are currently using Playmobil® ads shown on our in-vehicle monitors to encourage our passengers to act considerately towards one another. These short films were produced in cooperation with Technische Universität Dresden and include a piece on waste disposal in buses and trams.

Can I buy my ticket from the bus driver?

You have numerous opportunities to buy a ticket before beginning your journey. In addition to our service points and around 150 ticket machines at stops, you can also use your smartphone to purchase a ticket anytime, anywhere via the HandyTicket service. Tickets are also available from an increasing number of shops and hotels. If you choose to buy your ticket from the bus driver, you can make the process as smooth as possible by sticking to the following tips:

  • Get on at the front of the bus;
  • Aim to have the correct change with you;
  • Check the change you receive from the bus driver straight away.

The bus driver will not always have sufficient change in their till. If, for whatever reason, you do not have the correct change on you and the bus driver has insufficient change to accept a note, please ask other passengers for assistance. If the situation still cannot be resolved, the bus driver is able to issue you with a change receipt which you can redeem at one of our service points.

Each tram is fitted with a small ticket machine close to its second door. You can use this machine to purchase a limited range of tickets for immediate travel. Please be aware that the machine only accepts coins.

This symbol shows that your baker or newsagent sells bus and tram tickets. To browse a list of all points of sale, please refer to item “Where can I get tickets?” under the “Tickets” menu on our website.

Please always aim to buy your ticket before you begin your journey. If the worst comes to the worst you can buy a ticket upon boarding the bus. Bus drivers sell single and day tickets for the Upper Elbe transport association (VVO).

Give me an A, give me an L, give me an I, T, A ... alita!

Problem: Very low demand at some times of day and in some sections of our network.
Solution: alita – our on-request taxi service used to replace regular buses and trams.

Who is eligible to use this service? Anyone – all you need is a valid ticket (includes monthly and annual tickets). Passengers can also buy a single ticket for a journey on the VVO network direct from the taxi driver.

How do I know where alita is available? Simply check the timetable on display at your stop to find out if alita is currently available on your route (denoted by a “T” behind the departure time). In the journey planner an alita connection is given as “Anruflinientaxi alita” followed by the respective route number. In the printed version of the timetable the alita symbol is “TAX” and is located behind the respective connections.

Helpful hint: alita taxis have an alita sign on display – so you will know straight away that the taxi is for you.

How frequently do alita taxis come? The alita service is only available on request. Please call your alita taxi at least 20 minutes before your desired departure time, either by calling our service hotline (+49 351 8571111) or speaking to the driver of the vehicle you are travelling on. The taxi will then come and collect you from the requested stop.

Please provide the following information when calling an alita taxi:

  • The alita route you wish to travel on;
  • The stops where you wish to be picked up and dropped off;
  • Your requested departure time (see timetable);
  • Your name;
  • Any special requirements (e.g. if you are travelling with a pushchair or in a group).

Passengers who use the alita service a number of times each week can make a block booking. To find out which routes our alita taxis travel along and the times during which they are available, please refer to menu item “TIMETABLE – Night-Time Travel – ALITA taxis”.

Why is video surveillance used in trams and buses?

Our trams and buses are fitted with video surveillance cameras used exclusively to prevent and investigate criminal offences. There has been a noticeable decline in vandalism and confrontations on our vehicles since the cameras were introduced.

Can recordings be used to find lost items?

No. For technical reasons videos are normally deleted after 24 hours. DVB employees are not able to watch the recordings. The police reserves the exclusive right to watch the recordings when investigating suspected offences. Under the terms of data protection regulations, an offence must therefore be suspected to have taken place before any analysis of the film material may occur. Video analysis therefore may not be used to locate a lost coat or telephone. If, and in spite of video surveillance, a theft occurs but is only noticed once the passenger has left the tram, they must first inform the police. The police will then contact us in order to obtain the corresponding recordings.

Is the driver able to monitor the passenger compartment at all times?

No. In critical situations they are nevertheless able to set electronic markers which ensure that the video in question is stored for a longer period. This secures evidence against potential offenders. Our drivers’ main duty is naturally to guarantee the safety of passagers travelling in our vehicles, and the monitor installed in each driver cabin therefore only automatically switches on when the tram is at rest at a stop. The monitor switches from camera to camera depending on the number of cameras installed in the vehicle. It turns off automatically when the tram is in motion so that the driver can devote their full attention to the traffic around them.