Munich’s challenges during the Oktoberfest

Karussel at the Oktoberfest

Are you ready for another round of “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” (possible translation: “A cheers to togetherness”)? Millions of people are on their way to the city of Munich in order to celebrate the worldwide largest fair, the Oktoberfest. Let’s start with some facts to illustrate what kind of mayhem Munich must prepare for in order to successfully host the 16 day (22.09.2012 – 07.10.2012) annual beer fest. In 2011, 6.9 million visitors attended the celebrations and a stunning 7.5 million litres of beer and a similarly colossal 522,821 chickens were consumed.[1] Elsewhere, the mixture of large amounts of people paired with large beer consumption is rather unwelcome. Munich, a city of 1.3 million inhabitants, however, has become extremely experienced with providing the appropriate security to keep the Oktoberfest a peaceful event. But what kind of implementations are being put into place in order to assure a smooth flow of the masses to and from the Oktoberfest? And how is business mobility affected throughout this mega event? We shall take a look behind the scenes of the immense organisation that takes place to allow for some normality during this craziness.

Oktoberfest: More public transport service

Beer towers at the Oktoberfest

During the Oktoberfest period, the whole city is filled with people – often wearing traditional clothing. Every single hotel is completely booked out and even the usually scarcely-used camping sites swell over. One of the major challenges is the transport of people to and from the Oktoberfest’s venue, the Theresienwiese. Last year, more than 2 million people used public transport to get there. This extra burden resulted in 18,000 minutes of delay, interrupted service on 17 lines, and 9 emergency brake incidents due to drunken people. Problems occurred at stations closely located to the Oktoberfest as S-Bahn chief Bernhard Weisser notes: “We want to avoid trains from having to go through stations without being able to stop because of platform overcrowding”.[2] Therefore, the city of Munich will put another 600 urban trains (S-Bahn) and 162 additional regional trains into service in 2012. In general, people staying in hotels nearby the festivities are encouraged to walk to the Oktoberfest instead of filling up carriages unnecessarily. For this purpose, officials have erected a network of street signs leading visitors directly to the Theresienwiese.

Business mobility and Oktoberfest: a contradiction?

People using public transport to go to work could benefit from the additional service as well. Especially when returning home from work in the evening when carriages are filled with jolly drunkards singing their favourite Oktoberfest chants. Not only will the additional trains improve the service but also assure some level of comfort. If, however, travelling by public transport becomes unbearable other possibilities can be used. Thankfully, Munich is an extremely bicycle friendly town with an extensive network of bicycle paths. The bicycle might really be your best bet as streets can be extremely jammed or even completely closed off. This often happens in the very centre of Munich as well as around the Theresienwiese. Using your own car is hence not an alternative, which is another reason why public transport is the number one choice for most people. The only motorised vehicles allowed within this closed off ring around the venue are taxis, which are high in demand during the Oktoberfest period. In total, there are six main taxi stands located around the Theresienwiese. In the end, no matter how you get to work during these two weeks, you can expect things to be slightly different to normal. But “Münchner” love their Oktoberfest and are therefore more likely to laugh at the situation than get frustrated by it. Prost!

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