Public urban transportation service in and around Stuttgart is offered by Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund Stuttgart (VVS). This includes buses, the U‑Bahn and the S‑Bahn. U‑Bahn is short for Untergrundbahn, even though many lines are above ground. These lines have more dense coverage, although frequency varies by line. S‑Bahn is short for Stadtschnellbahn. The stops are farther apart and the network extends to neighboring towns. You can click to access the official website in English.
You can purchase VVS tickets as well as rail tickets in the vending machine(s) found at every tram stop and train station. You must purchase your ticket before you enter the tram/train. If you buy a 4‑punch multi-ticket, be sure to validate it by punching it for each use. U‑Bahn validation is done inside the tram, while S‑Bahn validation is done on the platform. Bus tickets can be purchased from the bus driver on the bus.
S‑Bahn vending machines are fully electronic, so you can easily change the language to English. For the U‑Bahn vending machines, it helps to know the meaning behind a few of the buttons. For a single ticket, press the man icon on the top left. To the right is the button for children or pets (yes, dogs need a ticket!) Just under that is “Kurz,” a ticket that allows you to go just three stops. To the right is for bicycles, but that’s not needed except during morning rush hour.
The third row shows one person for a day, “Tag,” or a group for a day. The group ticket allows up to five people to travel together all day – but the ticket holder must be with them! The next row offers a week or a month, but in general for month or year tickets it’s best to go to one of the offices (for example inside the stations at Charlottenplatz or Hauptbahnhof) and get a registered polygo card with a photo. That way you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or stolen. You can pay at the machine with cash or credit card, but not EC cards.
Even simpler is to use the VVS Mobil app, available from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can buy all kinds of tickets, find the best route to your destination, check upcoming departures and arrivals, and more. There’s nothing like checking exactly when your train arrives and only needing to arrive on the platform 1 minute beforehand!
There are fewer connections available at night, particularly on weeknights. Fortunately, the SSB Flex app, available from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, can help you find the best way to your intended destination. It will calculate the route using trains, buses, and/or the shuttle routes offered as the “Flex” extension to the Stuttgart public transportation network. The shared shuttle rides do involve a charge, which is discounted for holders of a valid VVS ticket.
Long-distance transportation service is provided by Deutsche Bahn AG. Click to be forwarded to the official website in English. The DB App is a fantastic tool that not only lets you book DB tickets but also local public transportation wherever you go. Plus, you can store your tickets in-app, get push notifications about delays or route changes, and even map your route door to door.