When travelling in Europe one is able to use public transportation for most journeys. This means that a hire car is unnecessary, and that the environment is a little bit more protected.
We started our most-recent adventures in Brighton & Hove, England, using buses and trains, then went to Brussels, Belgium, using trains and trams. Now we’re in Essen, Germany. The first two make it very easy. Touch your contactless debit or credit card on the reader on the way onto the bus, and tap the same when you get off, and you’re charged appropriately. This works in Brighton & Hove, and in Brussels. But Essen, sadly, has no such feature. And the website is a criminally difficult thing to decipher. If we need to use a tram, I’m going to have to slowly ask the driver for help, which isn’t great for other passengers, nor for timetables.
So, this is a call to Essen and Ruhr Bahn – get contactless readers added to your trams for tap-on, tap-off functionality. If public transport is frictionless, we will use it over cars, but if it requires learning about, then the car is going to be easier, faster, and less environmentally and socially responsible.