This article was written by our long-time member Elizabeth Urban to help all newcomers to explore the city using public transport. Find out all the basic things you need to know about buses, trams and metro in the capital of Poland. The article was updated and featured in September 2011 newsletter.
The bus/tram/metro system is very efficient in Warsaw. Using buses, you can reach most parts within Warsaw city limits (strefa 1) and those outside Warsaw city limits in strefa 2 (Konstancin,for example).
General information about the bus routes:
Buses #100 to 299: These are the slowest ‘regular’ buses, with many stops; they run often and on weekends and holidays
Buses #300 to 499: These buses run frequently during busy morning and evening rush hours during the work week and less frequently in non-rush hours between 9:00 and 14:00. They may not run on weekends.
Buses #500 to 599: These buses have stops on the outer areas but inside city limits, with less stops within the ‘middle ring’ of the city but with major stops near the center and at major intersections. The 500 number buses run on weekends and holidays and are the fastest ones for getting from most areas to the city center.
Buses #700 to 899: These buses run outside the official Warsaw city limits, from and to ‘stefa 2’, and often end at metro stations or come to the central train station. The #700 buses run on weekends but the #800 buses do NOT.
E + a number (for example E2) : These are express buses that usually run during morning and afternoon rush hours, weekdays only. These buses usually don’t run during the summer or during school holidays.
N + a number (for example N01) : These are night buses with routes that almost always go by the central train station. Night buses usually run every 30 minutes or once per hour between 23:00 and 5:00. Those numbered N50-59 go outside Warsaw city limits.
At each bus stop (przystanek) you will see the number and the posted schedule of all buses that stop there; if the words ‘NA ŻĄDANIE’ (ON DEMAND) are below the number of the bus you want to board, you must wave to the bus driver to STOP the bus for you. While riding the bus, look at the route map above a window ; each stop has a name and if your stop is marked by an empty circle -- O -- (‘na zadanie’) you must hit the STOP button for the bus to stop there.
Go to www.ztm.waw.pl to find bus and metro schedules. Click ‘rozklad jazdy wg. Linii’ and the numbers of the bus routes will appear. Click the route number (ex. 116 that starts/ends in Wilanow), then click the starting location (either end of the line) and you will see the names of all the bus stops on the route. Click the name of the your stop (ex. Wilanow 2) and you will see the time table for that stop. All buses use the ‘weekend’ schedules on all holidays that fall during the week.
Bus tickets and fares
Tickets can be purchased at most kiosks. Tickets can be purchased from the driver but only before he starts to drive; the cost will be rounded up so you should have exact change. The same tickets are used on all public transportation (metro, bus, tram) and should be validated at the ticket box as soon as you board the bus, tram or at the metro turnstile.
Regular ‘adult’ fares will apply to most of us, though there are 26 kinds of tickets (regular and 50% discounted fares). Within the city limits, the regular single trip ticket is 3,60zl. There are timed tickets for 20, 40, 60 and 90 travel minutes, during which you can transfer to any number of buses, trams, metro. There are also 1, 3 and 7 day tickets for ‘strefa 1’ or for both ‘strefa 1 and 2’. These are good tickets to use with visitors.
Persons over 70 ride for free as do children ‘up to school age’. If using 50% discount tickets, make sure to have proper school ID for all school age children; check with your child’s school to make sure that your school ID will be accepted with discounted tickets (this applies to train tickets too!)
There is no charge for luggage (suitcases) or animals but dogs should have a muzzle.
There are also 30 and 90 day passes (strefa 1 or strefa 1 and 2) that allow travel on all methods of public transport including night buses. You must apply for these and supply a photo. You can get a card to ride only one specific line or for use ‘by bearer’ (not one specific person). If you will be using public transport a lot, the best ticket is the 90 day pass that currently costs 220zl (regular fare).
Read all this in more details at www.ztm.waw.pl