Written by David Creighton
Deciphering bus and train timetables in the Czech Republic can seem baffling, and buying tickets can also be a hassle. Here´s some important information to help you get to grips with the complexities of the public transport system.
Bus and train timetables have basically the same format, although in bus schedules both route directions are shown side by side on the same timetable. For example, the list of stops from Prague to Kutná Hora will be shown in the middle, with Prague at the top and Kutná Hora at the bottom. Departures from Prague will be shown on the left, and return journeys from Kutná Hora shown on the right, reading the timetable from the bottom. Arrows are shown on the timetable to make it easier to follow.
Some of the other key things you should look out for in bus or train timetables include whether the bus or train runs on a working day (shown by crossed hammers), a weekend or both. Circled numbers mean days, e.g. Monday is shown as a circled 1, Tuesday a circled 2 etc. Cross symbols mean state holidays. Jede v and nejede v mean ‘running on´ and ‘not running on´ respectively. Odj. (odjezd) means ‘departure´ and Příj. (příjezd) means arrival. As in other European countries, train departure schedules are printed on yellow paper; arrivals on white.
Another important thing to look out for is a white number shown against a small black square, at the top of a timetable. This indicates footnotes, which give a variety of information, including whether the bus/train runs/doesn´t run on certain days/periods. If this is the case there will be a wavy line shown in the relevant column.
The bus or train station is an obvious place to go for information, but in larger towns such places can be confusing and unwelcoming, and the staff may not speak English. A much less stressful way to obtain bus and train information is on www.jizdnirad.cz. The website has an English version, and it´s quite easy to use. Symbols are used here too; for explanations place the cursor over them.
Bear in mind that buses and trains do not always depart from the main terminus. For example, if you´re going to Liberec by bus from Prague, then you´ll leave from Černý Most bus station. This applies to international departures too.
If you´re travelling from a village or small town buying tickets (you may need a reservation/supplement too) is fairly straightforward: you either buy them on the bus/train or at the station. But in larger cities it can be more complicated. Of course, you can buy tickets from the main train and bus stations, but you may have to wait in long queues. Often bus tickets have to be bought at the station you are departing from. With trains you have more flexibility regarding where you can buy a ticket. An alternative in both cases is to buy tickets at a travel agent such as Čedok or, if you are travelling by rail, one of the Czech Railways travel agents.
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org