Krakow Public Transport
Krakow is served by a modern and efficient network of trams and buses operated by MPK S.A.
City buses are readily identifiable by their blue-and-white paint jobs (Krakow’s traditional colours) and blue, yellow and red MPK logos. Most trams also sport handsome Krakow blue, but some are smothered in advertising.
Krakow’s buses operate on over 150 lines, about half of which are within the city limits (Linie autobusowe miejskie) while the other half reach into surrounding districts (Linie autobusowe aglomeracyjne) – including to John Paul II International Airport.
Krakow’s trams run on 28 lines covering a distance of 84 km. The majority are new vehicles and many have easy-access low floors.
Buses and trams run on most lines until about 11pm. After that, there are 14 night bus lines (Linie autobusowe nocne) that operate until dawn, though much less frequently. Trams do not run through the night, except on special occasions.
The first stretch of Krakow’s Fast Tram network opened in 2008. A cross between a tram line and a light railway, the Fast Tram concept uses standard tram vehicles on dedicated tracks running through tunnels and over priority junctions to cut travel times between the city’s suburbs and the centre. Standard tickets are accepted on Fast Trams.
Bus and Tram Stops
Most of Krakow’s bus and tram stops share the blue livery of public transport vehicles. Some stops, especially in the city centre, serve both buses and trams. Elsewhere, bus and tram stops for the same location may be adjacent to each other and can be distinguished by their black-and-white bus or tram graphics.
Many tram stops in the city centre are now equipped with electronic boards giving the estimated arrival times of the next few trams. All bus and tram stops have comprehensive timetables.
It is illegal to smoke in or close to bus or tram stop shelters, or at open air bus or tram stops. Smoking on buses or trams is completely prohibited.
MPK S.A. public transport tickets can be used on all buses and trams, day or night. You can buy tickets:
at many, but not all, kiosks;
from ticket vending machines at busy stops (multiple language options are available);
from ticket vending machines on many buses and trams (identified by a large, yellow ‘A’ and the words ‘Automat Biletowy’ above the door);
from bus or tram drivers (on busy routes, drivers are often unwilling to deal with selling tickets).
WHEREVER YOU BUY YOUR TICKET, YOU MUST VALIDATE IT BY INSERTING IT INTO A TICKET VALIDATING MACHINE AS SOON AS YOU GET ON A BUS OR TRAM.
Types of Ticket
Twenty different types of ticket are available. By far the most common, and useful, are:
Single journey (Jednoprzejazdowy) 3.20 PLN (concessions: 1.60 PLN) - valid for a single, unbroken journey on any bus or tram within the city limits (Zone 1).
Double journey (Dwuprzejazdowy) 6.00 PLN (concessions: 3.00 PLN) - valid for any two, unbroken journeys on any buses or trams within the city limits. Must be validated on both journeys. These are very useful for return journeys, but do not have to be used on the same line for both journeys.
Time limited (Czasowe) from 2.00 PLN (15 minutes) to 40.00 PLN (7 days) (concessions: 1.00 PLN – 20.00 PLN)
Valid on any number of buses and trams for the period specified within the city limits (from the time the ticket is validated). Short period tickets are useful for short journeys or journeys that require multiple changes.
Zone II tickets (Aglomerajca) – from 3.40 PLN (concessions: 1.70 PLN)
If you want to travel beyond the city limits, or from outside the city into the centre, you’ll need a zone II ticket. These come in almost as many varieties as zone I tickets.
Full ticket details, prices and regulations can be found here: http://www.mpk.krakow.pl/en/prices-of-tickets/
The rules on ticket concessions are complex (senators and frequent blood donors travel free for example) but most of them do not apply to non-Poles.
Children under four and everybody over the age of 70 are entitled to free public transport. However, there have been cases of confusion over which non-Polish documents constitute proof of age. Given the low cost of tickets, it’s probably safest to buy concession or full price tickets for young children and senior citizens.
Concessions are available for:
Children under 16;
Full-time students under 24;
Again, there can be arguments about whether these categories extend to non-Poles. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is widely recognised.
If you get caught without a validated ticket, or the wrong kind of ticket, you will be fined 240 PLN plus the cost of the correct ticket for your journey. Plain clothes ticket inspectors can appear on any bus or tram at any time. Ticket inspectors must identify themselves using photo-identification cards – details of which are displayed inside all buses and trams.