#237: The BVG is deteriorating, grumpy Claus, why BER isn't big
You're invited to our office Christmas party
Hey 20 Percent!
I’ll keep it brief because I’ve been working in cafes in western Germany all week and I keep getting to eavesdrop on various local dramas (though the math tutoring currently sharing my table isn’t very juicy).
Please come out to our Christmas Party next Saturday! It’ll start at 9.30pm with a humorous look at the news in the 20 Percent News Quiz followed by drinks in Comedy Cafe’s bar. If you wanna check out the 8pm improv show before the News Quiz (It’s That Time of the Month), use code 7P9GVZXJ and get 25% off tix to both.
Here’s to hoping my train back to Berlin tomorrow won’t be delayed because of today’s strike.
Have a good, Glühweiny weekend!
Thanks to today’s sponsor, Ostrom, expat-friendly, all-digital, 100% power utility.
The lack of employees is making you hate the BVG
You’re not imagining it: the buses, subways and trams run by BVG have gotten worse — and are getting … worser, according to Tagesspiegel (paywall). The biggest problem is a lack of staff — the public transport authority has already thinned its bus schedule to account for unfilled bus driver positions but no word if it’ll do the same for other services. Reminder: the S-Bahn is run by Deutsche Bahn (imagine them as a Bond villain petting a Himalayan cat). Some stats for you:
U-bahn: 254 trips cancelled in April, 1,331 in November (505 because no driver)
Tram: 571 trips canceled in April, 1,466 in November (614 because no driver).
Bus: 3,880 trips cancelled in April, 8,856 (!) in November (No info on drivers)
The staffing problem is being exacerbated by normal public transport woes — a copper-cable theft forced BVG to reduce the frequency of the U6 for two weeks and broken equipment also leads to cancellations — but not as many as a lack of drivers.
A very Berlin Santa
Sure it’s 120 km southeast of Berlin but the attitude fits: A cantankerous Santa Claus was forced by police to leave a Christmas market in Cottbus Wednesday after yelling at visitors, according to RBB24. The man in red had first distributed unspecified presents before becoming less charitable. Security at first thought he worked at the market but then called police when it became clear he was there voluntarily, creating the possibility that it was the real St. Nick letting off some holiday-rush steam.
The little airport that could (not)
Berlin and Brandenburg would like to win Dubai-based airline Emirates to significantly expand the number of long-distance flights from our new, regional airport, according to RBB24. But federal politicians and global politics stand in the way. The German government has a bilateral commercial airline treaty with the United Arab Emirates because none exists between the UAE and the EU. The treaty limits UAE airlines to landing at four airports — and they already serve Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. Federal officials are hesitant to expand the treaty because it wouldn’t necessarily give the German flagship carrier corresponding access to the UAE. RBB experts point out that a lack of corporate bulk in Berlin is damning our airport to near-insignificance despite the city’s role in Europe.
Just give them more money already
As one reader pointed out on X/Twitter — parents in Berlin have already been suffering through school and kita strikes before everyone today had to weather their second train/S-Bahn strike in as many months (it ends tonight at 10pm). And, for the next four days, retail workers at Edeka, Kaufland and Rewe are holding their fourth strike as they push the companies for €2.50/hour, according to RBB24. It’s unclear who, where and what is being struck, but don’t be surprised if your Saturday shopping dash is met by either closed doors or partially empty shelves (because warehouse workers as well as customer-facing employees are picketing). God speed!
One of the few freelance jobs I miss was writing for DB World, the employee magazine for Deutsche Bahn. Really. I once did a mini-series on the history of German railways and learned that on Dec. 7 (yesterday) in 1835 the Adler (Eagle), Germany’s first commercially viable steam locomotive, went from Nürnberg to Fürth. A railway boom followed, with numerous private regional railways emerging that would be united into a single, public network in the 1920s. Sub-factoid: the Adler was made in England.
Some stuff do do this weekend from our partners at The Next Day Berlin
Around the World in 14 Films
Until 09.12, Kino in der KulturBrauerei, Neues Off, and Delphi Lux. Tickets: €11.
A compact film exhibition featuring movies from around the world with some true movie gems. We spotlight: 'It's Only Life After All' (USA/2023), a documentary about the folk band Indigo Girls; 'Augure/Omen' (Congo/2023); 'Four Daughters' (Tunisia/2023); and 'Earth Mama' (USA/2023).
Saturday, 09.12, 8 pm-3 am. Urban Spree, Revaler Str. 99, 10245. Ticket: €24.85.
Synth lovers' party featuring live performances by Das Ding, 🎧 Fatamorgana, and Charlie. Morwan, a post-punk act, opens the show, and Serge Jazzmate will DJ avant-garde electronics from the doors till late.
The Girl Group Gala
Sunday, 10.12, from 7 pm. LARK, Holzmarktstrasse 15-18, 10179. Suggested donation €10-20.
A party with a noble cause: All profits from entry and food sales will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. On the decks, a tribute to the past and future of girl groups: from 'Be My Baby' to Boygenius, Shangri-Las to Sugarbabes.
⭐⭐⭐Visit our sponsor!⭐⭐⭐
⚡ CONTROL YOUR ENERGY COSTS THIS WINTER ☃️
What easier way to cut costs than by paying less for electricity? With the OSTROM APP, you can easily keep track of your energy consumption and adapt your monthly payments at any time.
Ostrom is the provider that delivers you green energy at cost price — no markups, just a flat €6 admin fee. As an Ostrom customer, you can expect lower electricity bills when market prices drop. To make things easier, they offer a flexible, month-to-month plan that can be canceled anytime, with an all-digital experience in English and German.
Head to OSTROM.DE to sign up in five minutes. Their support team will deal with your ex-provider and ensure your lights stay on throughout the entire switching process.
Use code 20PERC3NT5 for a €35 bonus when signing up. After that,
you’ll get a personal referral code to share, meaning another €35
bonus each time someone uses it!