All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

The buses of Hamburg, part two: a travelling book exchange arrives on time

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The Altesland by Finkenwerder, by bus

Altesland, Finkenwerder, by bus and ferry

I took a lot of buses in Hamburg, and that’s a bit of a surprise, in hindsight.  I love trains, and I took mostly them, the U-Bahn, the S-Bahn, to go all over the place.

But even within the city limits, there are areas that have a very low population density, and trains don’t go there.  The Vierlander, a city projection that looks on a map like a pseudopod, is an agricultural area that supplies Hamburg’s vegetables.   At the opposite end, Finkenwerder is Germany’s largest orchard, and it is also part of Hamburg.  Both areas make for lovely walks, and can be accessed by buses (Finkenwerder is across the Elbe, and the bus ticket includes a passenger ferry).  Even going further afield, there’s a bus: when I went to Geesthacht, a small town in the province of Schleswig-Holstein that abuts Hamburg, I took a city bus.  (And, even in the boonies, the bus was right on schedule, within a minute of posted time.)

The Boberger dunes, within Hamburg

The Boberger dunes, within Hamburg




I also took the bus to get to the Boberger Dunen, a completely unexpected natural wonder within the city limits.  It is a series of sand dunes, bereft of vegetation, left behind by the retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age.  Despite the rainy weather of Hamburg, the porous sand can’t retain moisture, and vegetation just doesn’t get a foothold.  It’s a very surreal area.  Pretend for a moment that you’re in the Sahara, climb up a dune, and look around.  Beyond the sand, to the north, is a woodlot, behind which you can make out a few houses.  To the south, down a dip, are the flat fertile farms of the Vierlander, an area sometimes flooded by the Elbe river that you can see further away, shining in the sunshine.

It’s quite marvelous to be able to go there for a short excursion, and be able to get there and back on buses that arrive on the hour or the half-hour, reliably.  But the surprise was to see how well used the buses were.  Even in these very low density areas, there were many riders, including kids.  Near Bergedorf (an area with many refugees), a large group of schoolkids boarded my bus, laughing, horsing around.  I recognized some German, some Arabic, and who knows what else.  They were all smiles.

The book exchange in the bus

The book exchange in the bus

One of these buses to the outer city even had a book exchange inside.

Buses are the most plebeian members of public transit, sure.  Subways, tramways, even cable-cars are more sexy.  But buses are the foundation of any transit system, ensuring connectivity, reach, and reliability, all things that are essential to a good working system.  And the Hamburg buses are frequent, clean, reliable, far-reaching, and precisely on schedule, dependably.  And they’re rarely packed.  Loser cruisers they’re not.

When is the bus coming?

When is the bus coming?







I was downtown on a rainy and cold evening, going home.  On my way to the U-Bahn I looked up at the electronic sign.  My bus, the M6 Borgweg, would arrive in 5 minutes, and there’d be another one minute later.  The first one would drop me off right at my street corner, Goldbekplatz.  An easy choice.


Written by enviropaul

February 20, 2017 at 7:38 pm

One Response

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  1. […] mean feat considering this Hamburg’s equivalent to our Granville street.  I also mentioned that buses are on time and go everywhere, even to as surreal a destination as a sand dunes area within city […]

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