HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

How to Get Around

On-Base Transportation
There are various methods of getting around on base, even without a car.

Bicycles
Bikes can be ridden on base, but proper safety equipment, such as helmets, must be worn. Cyclers are not permitted to ride their bikes on sidewalks.

Driving Yourself
If you are stationed at Spangdahlem, you must have a USAREUR driver's license and your car must pass inspection and be registered with the 52nd Security Forces Squadron to drive on base.

Check out how to get your USAREUR driver's license.

New and used vehicles can be purchased in Germany or shipped from the U.S. or other bases. Check your orders prior to shipping a vehicle to make sure you are allowed to do so. 

Find out about POV shipping and registration.

Rental cars can be rented from Enterprise Car Rental on base or off-base car rental agencies. The closest agency to Spangdahlem is in Bitburg.

Check out how to rent a car in Europe.

Official Shuttle
The 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron supplies an official, on-call shuttle for work appointments only. The shuttle can transport you to, from or between your work and official appointments. The shuttle cannot be used for transportation to or from lodging, your house, the Commissary, Exchange or other non-official locations or appointments. To call the shuttle or for more information, call DSN: 314-452-RIDE (7433).

Lodging Shuttle
The 52nd Force Support Squadron Eifel Arms Inn provides shuttle transportation to and from Spangdahlem, Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, Ramstein Passenger Terminal and Frankfurt International Airport. Pets can be transported in approved containers on a space-available basis. Sponsors or family members picking up newcomers or visiting friends and family can also ride the shuttle free on a space-available basis. Prices and dates vary. For more information or to schedule a shuttle, call DSN: 314-452-0500 or fill out the shuttle request form and email it to 52fss.fsvllodgingshuttle@us.af.mil


Off-Base Transportation
Public transportation in Germany is excellent. You can get almost anywhere you want to go without a car. The systems run late into the night and start early in the morning. Most buses and streetcars run every 10 to 15 minutes in major cities. Once you figure out the system you will see that public transportation is an easy and economical alternative to owning a car.

Tickets
For the most part, tickets to ride the bus can be purchased from the driver or out of a Fahrkartenautomat (ticket machine). Most ticket machines work similar to the ones for the train. A list of destinations, with a certain code number behind each one is displayed at the front of the ticket machine. The amount you owe for the ticket shows up on the display after you have entered the number. Usually you have the option of paying with coins or bills.

If you purchase your ticket out of a machine you might have to stamp it as soon as you enter the bus or streetcar in order to make it valid. The stamping machines are located in the front, middle and back of the bus or streetcar. On the subway, they are located at the entrance to the system. The machines are usually bright orange.

Make sure you validate your ticket in this machine or you will be fined. Schwarzfahren (traveling without a ticket or a ticket which hasn't been validated) is not allowed and you will be fined.

Taxis
Taking a taxi in Germany is very easy and doesn't involve much language skill. When you enter the taxicab you may greet the driver by saying "Guten Tag", "Guten Abend", or just "Hallo" and tell him or her your destination. Every taxi has a meter to keep track of the charges. You will notice that when the taxi driver starts the meter there is already an amount recorded. This is the minimum flat rate that is part of the ride. Taxi rates are based on time and distance. There is a limit as to how many people can ride in a taxi; four passengers and the driver. For groups larger than four people you can request a larger sized taxi, such as a mini-van.

Driving
On the German Autobahn you need to know your geography in order to find your way around. The directions are not listed as north or south, but rather what is the next major city in the direction in which you are heading. Germany is the only country in Europe that does not have a speed limit for many stretches of its Autobahn. Sometimes, however, there is a speed limit, usually 130, 120 or even 100 kph. When driving on the Autobahn, keep in mind the left lane is for passing only. You can be fined for driving in the left lane if you are not passing.

Although you will see a lot of it, tailgating, flashing lights, turning on the left turn signal and wild hand gestures are forbidden.

You will also be fined if you pass on the right on the German Autobahn.

In the Cities
The speed limit for driving within the city is 50 kph. Many cities and smaller villages have residential areas with a speed limit of 30 kph. Remember that at most intersections you cannot make a right turn on a red light, unless a green arrow sign pointing to the right is displayed.

Who needs to Buckle up?
Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt. Infants may ride in the front passenger seat if they are in a rear facing car seat and there is no passenger side airbag; otherwise they must be in the back of the car in a car seat.

Children under the age of 12 years old must ride in the back of the vehicle. All children must be in an appropriate car seat or booster seat. Weight and size restrictions depend on the seat.

Good Samaritan Law
Germany has a Good Samaritan Law, which requires you to provide assistance to those who need it. Everyone is required by law to have a first aid kit in their car and all Germans have to go through a Red Cross first aid training course before they can receive their license.

German Automobile Clubs
German Automobile Clubs such as the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Auto club) and the AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland ) are organizations similar to the AAA in the U.S. They provide rapid assistance in breakdown and emergency situations. Different types of memberships are offered by both clubs.

Phones and driving
Only use a cell phone while driving if you have a speaker attachment or a headset so that your hands are free to steer. If you do not have a hands-free device, you must pull completely off the road into a parking lot and turn the engine off before you make or answer a call.

Every two kilometers on the Autobahn you will see orange poles and boxes. They are emergency phones connected to a highway patrol. When you have reached the emergency phone, lift up the handle and wait. The kilometer number is written on the emergency phone. If there is a comma in the number say it. For example, KM 2,6 is "Zwei Komma Sechs."

Landstrasse (Secondary Road)
On secondary roads, you will sometimes find emergency telephone boxes. Inside the box is a phone, which allows you to make emergency calls only. To locate the closest emergency phone you need to pay attention to the black and white posts along the side of the Autobahn. The arrow on the post will point you to the nearest emergency phone. You will never have to walk more than one kilometer. You won't find a secondary road emergency call box as often as those on the Autobahn.

Culture Shock
You will not normally find police chasing after cars for speeding. Instead there are radar detectors set up throughout Germany to "catch" you. The German police use a variety of devices to catch people who speed or run red lights. Most big cities have permanent Fotoampeln, or radar cameras, mounted at busy intersections or on major roads throughout the city. These cameras will usually take two pictures, one of the driver and one of the vehicle. A bright flash ensures that the picture will turn out even in bad weather conditions. Video cameras are also being used to monitor some intersections at all times.

In addition to the permanent cameras, the police also use temporary cameras, which can be set up at different locations on any given day. The temporary cameras are often seen on the Autobahn or near Baustellen, or construction sites. They might be sitting at the side of the road or even be hidden inside a parked vehicle. If you are caught on film running a red light or speeding, you will receive a letter from the German government stating what you did wrong and how much money you will be fined. You may also get points on your license or lose your license for a period of time. If you believe you were not at fault and would like to fight the claim, you may write a letter. The government will then send you a photograph of the situation as proof and you will have to pay an even bigger fine if the photo really is yours. If a friend was driving your car you will have to have the friend pay and write a letter explaining that the points, if any, should be applied to his or her license, not yours.

Watch out for Bicycles
In Germany the Fahrrad, or bicycle, is more than just sports equipment - it's a means of transportation. Many cities have split bicycle and pedestrian paths or even single bicycle lanes running parallel to the streets making it easy and safe to get around town on a bicycle. Finding a parking spot in cities can be aggravating, so the bicycle is a great alternative to a personal vehicle and cheaper than the bus.

Bicycles have to be equipped with a bell to warn pedestrians and head and tail lights and reflectors for riding in the dark. Only children up to the age of 8 years old may use the sidewalk to ride their bicycles. Adults must ride on the bike paths or the edge of the street. Many German families enjoy riding their bikes in their free time, especially in the summer. Marked bicycle paths can be found throughout Germany. You can find guidebooks and maps for bike trails in most German bookstores. Taking your bike with you on the train is popular and easy, but you will have to purchase a special bicycle ticket for it. You can take your bicycle on the S-Bahn, U-Bahn or streetcar in your city, although sometimes not during peak times.

Scooters are also very popular among young Germans, especially in the summertime. Anlieger frei means that only local traffic can drive through this area. There are also children playing here, so you have to exercise extra caution when driving here.

Tanken (Getting Gas)
If you are away from a base and need to get gas, you can use your ESSO gas card at any ESSO station in Germany. You will be afforded the overseas DoD rate only if there is a positive balance on the card. Most gas stations are Selbstbedienung, or self-service. You will need either: Benzin bleifrei, or unleaded gas, Super bleifrei, or super unleaded gas, Super plus, or premium unleaded gas, or Diesel. Because the pumps are for liters and are displayed in strictly Euros, you will need to pump the gas according to how many liters you want and not how much money you intend to spend. You can buy maps at ESSO stations or your local Exchange, which tell you where all the ESSO stations in Germany are located.

Parking
Parking can be a problem in some German towns. Options include parking lots, garages, or on the side of the street when allowed. There are several signs used to indicate parking. P stands for any kind of parking. If the P has a roof over it, that means covered parking.

Parking Meters
Occasionally you will find parking meters in downtown areas. Metered parking is usually from less than one hour to several hours at a time. Generally, you only need to pay during business and shopping hours.

In some parking lots, you pay as soon as you park. After putting money in an automated machine, it will dispense a ticket for the amount of time you wish to park. You then need to place the ticket in your driver's side windshield before leaving the lot. Place the ticket in the driver's side windshield so that the parking officers can see that you have paid. Don't forget to return before your time has expired.

Sometimes you may park for free if you use a Parkuhr, or parking clock. A parking clock is a blue cardboard or plastic device with a white wheel inside. You should purchase a clock at an auto parts store or gas station and keep it in the car at all times. When allowed to park with a Parkuhr, set the clock by turning the wheel to the time you parked and place it on your dashboard. Return to your car within the posted time limit.

Parkhaus / Tiefgarage
A Tiefgarage is an underground garage. Before you enter the parking garage, make sure you pay attention to when the garage closes and note if you can get your car out before that time, since many garages are not open 24 hours a day. Signs at the outside of the parking garage will let you know whether there are parking spots available or not; "frei" means there are still spaces available, "besetzt" means the parking garage is full. In some cities, the parking garages are connected to each other electronically by a Parkleitsystem, so that if one parking garage is full, you will be directed to the next one.

Save Money!
If you park in a Parkhaus, or parking garage, that is connected to a department store and spend more than a certain amount of money in that store, you can get your parking ticket validated at the cash register and receive a discount on your parking. Therefore, if you only run downtown for less than an hour and buy something where you park, you might be able to park for free!

Get your ticket when you enter. In most parking garages, you get a ticket or sometimes a token from a machine as you enter. Keep the ticket with you. When you are ready to leave, you will have to pay at the Kassenautomat, or automated cashier, first and then go pick up your car. Slide the ticket into the machine, pay the amount on the display and a validated ticket will come back out along with your change. If you need a receipt, press the button marked Quittung, or receipt, and a printed receipt of how much you paid will also come out of the machine. On your way out of the parking garage, slide your validated ticket into the small machine next to the exit gate and it will rise up so that you can drive out of the garage.