I have have a train ticket from Germany:

von [City Name]
nach 6 Waben

What does 6 Waben mean? I found that it means 6 honeycomb, but this does not make much sense to me in context.

  • 11
    What city is it? Maybe they have some sort of zone system where the zones are arranged like honeycomb and you just might be allowed to travel 6 zones
    – Gerhardh
    Sep 15, 2017 at 8:45
  • 5
    "Waben" means "zone(s)" here.
    – Eller
    Sep 15, 2017 at 8:58
  • 4
    You might want to ask that on Travel with a picture of the ticket you have.
    – simbabque
    Sep 15, 2017 at 11:56
  • Das Tarifgebiet des Verkehrsverbunds Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB) ist in Waben eingeteilt. Sep 15, 2017 at 16:31
  • I think most bus/train systems are arranged that way, it's the notion of a Wabe and the arrangement of places into a fixed hexagonal grid instead of using a real geographical map and adjusting the individual borders on that map which is pretty unique.
    – Janka
    Sep 15, 2017 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


"Wabe" means "honeycomb". It refers to the (kind of) hexagonal grid that one can often see in maps of the public transport system of a city or region such as this one:

Wabe, honeycomb, train map).

So "6 Waben" means that you may travel with your ticket through up to 6 of the hexagons (including the one where you start).

  • Can you travel as much as you want within a Wabe? Or is that limited too?
    – BruceWayne
    Sep 16, 2017 at 15:48
  • @BruceWayne Typically only for a single trip (i.e., when switching buses/trains, you must continue roughly in the same direction in a reasonable manner) Sep 16, 2017 at 18:00
  • @HagenvonEitzen ah, so if I get off at the "first" Wabe I'm done and have to buy another ticket to go to a second/third/etc? Gotcha, thanks!
    – BruceWayne
    Sep 16, 2017 at 18:38
  • 1
    @BruceWayne You might be allowed to switch to some transport to another Wabe with a 6-Waben Ticket, but legally you may not be allowed to run errands at that first stop or whatnot. Details ought to be spelled out in the local Terms of Service (a good read for a long winter). At any rate, don't take my word Sep 16, 2017 at 18:47
  • You can always trust the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar to make everything complicated. If anybody would like to learn about the Waben example shown in the picture, there is a page for that vrn.de/tickets/tarifsystem/wabensystem/index.html (german)
    – oelna
    Sep 16, 2017 at 23:11

Traditionally, train tickets were from A to B with every combination of A and B having an independent price not necessarily deduceable from other combinations C and D. What you had to pay also depended on whether you took the bus, tram or train from A to B. Nowadays, the public transport of many urban areas is organised in a transport association that will have the same fare from a number of places close to A to a number of places close to B regardless of the mode of transportation.

Typically, the fares in transport associations will follow some kind of zone regime. Two versions are most popular:

  • for a centralised transport association (e.g. Munich’s MVV), zones will essentially form concentric circles. These will either keep their name zone (Zone) or be termed ring (Ring).

  • for a polycentric transport association (e.g. Mannheim’s RNV), a honeycomb-like concept is more common as a concentric set of rings would become increasingly pointless with increasing distance. (The area covered by the RNV is much larger than just Mannheim and the immediate surrounding as is the case with Munich.) While these can still be termed zone (Zone), some associations — most notably Mannheim — went with the honeycomb description instead since the pattern of zones laid out on a map loosely resembles the hexagonic structure of honeycomes. Hence why in German it is called Wabe.

With your ticket, you can cross exactly five zone borders — but you can choose the direction you travel in thanks to the hexagonic general structure.

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